Friday, December 5, 2014

Why Journalism is Dying In a Job Description

You want to know why print journalism is dying in the USA? Here's a job description I came across today, bold, underline, and italics are my emphases: and The Enquirer are searching for a Community Press Content Coach to join our newsroom.
As Community Press Content Coach:
  • 100% of your work is focused on the 25-45 audience.
  • You work with reporters to identify the watchdog questions that will help readers make smart choices for their communities and get to the bottom of their questionsYou ensure the reporter uses public records and the best sources to be authoritative.
  • You ensure watchdog stories deliver clear findings that are unique in the community.
  • You identify stories that are best told through emotional narrative and coach reporters to develop the characters and places  relatable to the 25-45 audience.
  • You ensure that the Community Press/Recorder reporters collaborate well with Enquirer rpeorters. They should share tips, sources, and report stories together to ensure all Enquirer Media readers get the best and most relevant content.
  • You plan for mobile first to determine the best storytelling approach and what assets the reporter must gather to produce content that is complete, authoritative and shareable.
  • You deliver to the planner on time, to ensure our products are interesting every day and the reporter/photographer can build a following.
  • You ensure each content creator is the news leader in their field. They are competitive; they rarely get beat.
  • You can demonstrate ways that you coach reporters to help them be successful.
You report to: the Editor

I like that the idea is an "emotional narrative" because that's what news is all about, right? Emotion. Not facts, thoughts, actions, noooooooo. It must be "relatable" and "shareable" so the reporters don't "get beat" and can "build a following."

That's fantastic. Oh, and let's not forget the typo, "rpeorters" in the text. Wow.

I thought the person that did these things was called an "editor" not a "Content Coach." Welcome to the new age, I guess.

Remember, this is the company (Gannett) that just reorganized (eliminated) a pile of positions, and asked experienced journalists to re-apply for their jobs in an effort to get them out of the organization. Award-winning long-term writers. If you want to work in this field, you are nuts. I wouldn't bring any personal items to your desk, so you can carry everything out when it's your turn to get "re-organized."

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chris Rock on Race in Hollywood Is Epic

If you haven't seen it, Chris Rock (who I disagree with on stuff, but still like a lot!) has been writing and talking a lot lately with a new movie coming out, Ferguson, etc. This new essay is epic for several reasons, but I'd like to point out that he says something I have been saying for years (cue: confirmation bias). Our media is liberal but racist. Pretty white females as victims or perps get stories on 20/20 or Dateline while thousands upon thousands of black males get killed and it's not even noticed other than to scare white people from "going downtown" all across the county. The media (and they are all liberals, folks) portray black Americans in the context of crime almost exclusively.

The term "drive-by media" popularized by Rush Limbaugh is so fricking accurate.  This couples with my constant criticisms of sweeps month sensationalism and the ever popular "summer of" series, be it shark attacks, abductions, or West Nile Virus. Ask anyone who has had a reason to be on the news and they will tell you: they got important details completely wrong, or omitted details to create the narrative as they saw it, truth be damned.

Chris Rock isn't the first to make this observation, but he'll at least bring it to the forefront. The people who make our movies are led by scumbags (to allude to Charles Barkley!) molesting children, doing drugs, and excluding everyone that doesn't look or think like them.

We cut it out in Top Five, but there had been a scene where Kevin Hart, who plays my character’s agent, is in his office talking to me, and he finds out that “Zoolander” (Ben Stiller) is down the hall and he’s mad because none of the agents called him. He’s the only black agent at the agency, and there was a line in the movie like, “I’m the only black agent here. They never invite me to anything, and these people are liberals. This isn’t the Klan.
But forget whether Hollywood is black enough. A better question is: Is Hollywood Mexican enough? You’re in L.A, you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans. It’s the most liberal town in the world, and there’s a part of it that’s kind of racist — not racist like “F— you, n——-” racist, but just an acceptance that there’s a slave state in L.A. There’s this acceptance that Mexicans are going to take care of white people in L.A. that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I remember I was renting a house in Beverly Park while doing some movie, and you just see all of the Mexican people at 8 o’clock in the morning in a line driving into Beverly Park like it’s General Motors. It’s this weird town.
You’re telling me no Mexicans are qualified to do anything at a studio? Really? Nothing but mop up? What are the odds that that’s true? The odds are, because people are people, that there’s probably a Mexican David Geffen mopping up for somebody’s company right now. The odds are that there’s probably a Mexican who’s that smart who’s never going to be given a shot. And it’s not about being given a shot to greenlight a movie because nobody is going to give you that — you’ve got to take that. The shot is that a Mexican guy or a black guy is qualified to go and give his opinion about how loud the boings are inDodgeball or whether it’s the right s—- sound you hear when Jeff Daniels is on the toilet in Dumb and Dumber. It’s like, “We only let white people do that.” This is a system where only white people can chime in on that. There would be a little naivete to sitting around and going, “Oh, no black person has ever greenlighted a movie,” but those other jobs? You’re kidding me, right? They don’t even require education. When you’re on the lower levels, they’re just about taste, nothing else. And you don’t have to go to Harvard to have taste.
Also, this should sting:

But if we’re going to just be honest and count dollars and seats and not look at skin color, Kevin Hart is the biggest comedian in the world. If Kevin Hart is playing 40,000 seats in a night and Jon Stewart is playing 3,000, the fact that Jon Stewart’s 3,000 are white means Kevin has to cross over? That makes no sense. If anybody needs to cross over, it’s the guy who’s selling 3,000 seats.

Awesome. And remember, this country is 67% white and 12% black. Suck it Stewart, you aren't that popular.

More epic talk:

I couldn’t have made Top Five at a studio. First of all, no one’s going to make a movie with a premise so little and artsy: a star putting out a movie and getting interviewed by a woman from The New York Times. I would have had to have three two-hour meetings explaining that black people also read The New York Times. A studio would’ve made it like Malibu’s Most Wanted. And never in a million years would they have allowed a scene where the rich guy comes back to the projects and actually gets along with everybody. No way. In most black movies — and in most black TV shows and even in most black plays — anyone with money or an education is evil, even movies made by black directors. They have to be saved by the poor people. This goes back to Good Times andWhat’s Happening!!
Go read the whole thing, but here's my parting shot: I remember when Ellen's sitcom tanked and people blamed homophobia. I disagreed, I thought it was because the show went from being about the characters to being about the character being gay, and it wasn't funny anymore. People clearly love Ellen, it seems, and trust me, we knew she was gay anyway.

I'll also throw in that several conservative types I follow say that if we want to win the culture back, just go make good art and the conservative message that may or may not be a part of it will follow. the problem with most "conservative" art right now is that it's conservative first and it isn't good quality art! Anyway, here's Chris Rock:

But there’s been progress. When I was on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we did a sketch where I was Sasheer Zamata's dad and she had an Internet show. Twenty years ago when I was on Saturday Night Live, anything with black people on the show had to deal with race, and that sketch we did didn’t have anything to do with race. That was the beauty: The sketch is funny because it’s funny, and that’s the progress.

Yes, it is.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Friday Blues

You aren't going to like this, but I have an unpopular opinion: Black Friday is the fault of American women. There, I said it.

Who drives US retail?

If you've been to an Old Navy over the last 10 years, you know the answer. The stores used to be divided down the middle, pretty much; guys merchandise on one side, ladies on the other, with some kids stuff tucked in as well. Repeat for the Gap, Banana Republic (which used to be a really cool catalogue nothing like the current store at all), Eddie Bauer, etc.....

Old Navy even had old Chevy pickups as the main decoration:

Now, like all the other stores, guys get about 1/3 of the space. Why?

Women shop. Marketing research, no doubt, drove men out of the malls and stores because they weren't the ones buying stuff.

I remember the women in the family shopping on Black Friday back in the day, and we all thought they were nuts, going shopping first thing Friday morning, then it became 6am, then earlier and earlier, then Midnight, now it's on Thanksgiving itself.

Why? The stores want to lengthen the season as much as possible, that's why you can Christmas shop in September at Sam's and Costco. The REAL shopping, however, starts after Thanksgiving, just ask any retailer. Extending that by a few hours is HUGE.

So, women will shop, and if they think there's a deal (whether or not there really is one: see every outlet mall in America), they will shop more, and because of this, stores open earlier, stay open later, and do whatever is necessary to give women the opportunity to shop.

When you complain about the damage to family values over stores being open on Thanksgiving, the sad truth is that it's your Mom's and sister's and Aunt's fault. 

If they stayed home, and didn't clamor for a bargain, Target would be closed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Project, New Side Gate

It was time for the old gate to go, and we've had the doors from a friend's old gate for a few years, so out with most of the old and in with the new-ish!

Digging out the woven screen/gap filling support column (the door used to be hinged on this side) was fun, here's the minion hacksawing an obstacle...

Old copper rod, maybe a ground strap, couldn't dig it out, so we hacksaw'd it!

Out, damned post!

Next. I squared up the remaining post to set door #1 as level as possible to measure the distance needed to install a new gap filling panel against the garage leaving the proper room for door #2

Doorstop strip recycled from old setup, of course. Waste not, want not!

Maybe refilling the hole and removing all the attached lumber is a good step, you think?

then, time to re-dig the correct hole for the new installation...

I needed to build a new anchor point against the garage from scratch. This is also from the old treehouse, which was made with lumber from a friends' deck tear-down that got us the gate doors!

Here's where the story gets interesting: I shortened all the filler pieces after carefully measuring the distance between the garage and the edge of the installed gate door, slid them in the grooves of the posts and get it all ready to pour some concrete to set it.

Too wide.

Dis-assemble, trim all the pieces, reassemble. Argh.

This was the easiest part, dump the mix, then add water and wait! Granted, after digging and redigging and shimming and squaring.

Once it had cured, on went door #2, with a little work on the jamb edge to let it close....

The top crossbar is necessary for strength and keeping the doors relatively square.

The lattice on the left remained to preserve the clematis already winding through it, that will get replaced before too long

A Project From the Summer of 2014

I want to get these off my phone, but also wanted to record them somewhere!

First is the Veggie Garden Table. It started with a broken patio table: I removed the legs and disassembled the top.

 Then I roughed out the size of the moveable raised bed using leftover boards from our treehouse (also constructed mostly with secondhand lumber).

The legs got chopped down to an appropriate height, old screws removed and the frame pieces measured, cut, and assembled.

The side rails, here in the middle, got ledges attached to them for the slats to rest upon. All the basic frame parts (4 legs, two ends and two sides) look like this just before rain stopped work!

Here's the inside of the corner layout: end pieces flush with top of legs, side rails set to correct depth (a 2x4 will trim the top gap, you'll see below), with a slat temporarily laying across the middle). Can you see my mistake?

Lopping off the tongues of the old table slats.

Removing table hardware to reuse table parts

More table disassembly....

Trimming the sides to match the end piece height:

Looks finished, but remember my mistake? Yes, those gaps on the ends because of my simple corners. Let's scavenge some hardware and drill holes for anchors, hammer them in and attach some blocks.

Now, casters (so far, the only newly purchased item) to keep it mobile if necessary (when filled with peat moss and soil, it's pretty heavy).

Trim pieces to fill the end gaps, resting on the blocks.

Landscape fabric (oh wait, I bought that new, too, oops), peat moss that I'd had laying around for years, and then topsoil (the next newly purchased item) and finally, new plants: peppers, basil, rosemary, cherry tomatoes, squash.

And, plants!

Finally, a frame of leftover pvc and some mesh to keep the birds and critters out!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Living While Dying: Lauren Hill, Brittany Maynard, and Mrs. Dubose

Lauren Hill has inspired many with her story, basketball, her cancer, and her desire to raise as much money as she possibly can for pediatric cancer cure research before she dies. $40,000 so far. She is going to die, sooner rather than later.

Read about her here, here, here, and here.

Brittany Maynard chose a different route, she championed her right to end her life at the time of her choosing, which she did Saturday November 1, 2014.

You can choose sides, I guess, or decide which story appeals to your sensibilities, or just see them as two completely different situations and stories, but in time like these I am always reminded of the great book, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the character of Mrs. Dubose.

In case you have forgotten, Mrs. Dubose was the awful neighbor to whom Jem Finch ended up reading at her bedside as punishment for attacking her camellias with Scout's baton. It turns out he was also helping her kick her painkiller (morphine) habit so she could die not as an addict, but free from it. Atticus says this:
"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."  

Feel free to ruminate on that. Know that I've lost people to all kinds of disease, and seen friends suffer as their parents died slowly of cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, etc.

I will take Lauren's story over Brittany's every day of the week.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vaccinations, and the interwebby's disinformation.

So, my wife sends an email to me and a few close friends:

Interresting that a ***** mom nurse copied this and sent it out.

It is quite interesting that both health and government officials are persuading the entire United States population to inject disabled canine DNA, neutralized canine kidney cells, and potential cancer-causing agents into the body. The flu vaccine is not even guaranteed to protect against all strains of the flu virus; in fact, it only protects against three.
It is extremely important for anyone who is considering obtaining a flu shot to understand the flu vaccine ingredients and to know exactly what is being injected into the body. Is it really worth purposely getting sick from the flu shot when the chances are slim that the vaccine will shield the body from the type of virus each individual is exposed to? The decision is up for the taking.


I replied a little robustly.

Interesting, sure. Right, well, I'm not sure that I agree with that.

Besides, I have to get a flu shot if I want to keep my job! One of the benefits is that I get to talk to nurses, doctors, researchers, pharmacists, administrators, etc. about health issues on a daily basis. Overwhelmingly, the support is for vaccines.

Ok, this is a hot topic with me, so I reply to all with several links and too many words. Science is on the side of vaccines. There, I said it. I disagree with the writer, and the nurse Mom. 

The interestingly named website "Ifuckinglovescience" has this great article which I read a while ago.. This is excellent. If you stop after reading this, you'll be better informed than most. click on the links in it!

Here, I run into nurses who are super smart and nurses that, well, let's just say they don't grasp the finer details. Some nurses are anti-vaccination, and I happen to think that's wrong. It's also not just the USA, the advice to get the flu vaccine is world-wide. WHO | Influenza vaccines


#1, I don't trust the writer, the language she uses is that of an editorial rather than a news article: "Is it really worth purposely getting sick from the flu shot when the chances are slim that the vaccine will shield the body from the type of virus each individual is exposed to? The decision is up for the taking. " Seriously, who writes like that?  "purposely getting sick?" The "decision is up for the taking?"

I also don't trust the site,, even though it presents itself as Liberty-minded, the citizen-journalist model has flaws

Here are the other stories that writer has posted on that site, things like : Author Archives

#2, there are many types of flu vaccines, some egg-based, some even insect based, but not all have canine cells. Here's what the CDC has to say about how vaccines are made: 

#3.  An estimated 32,000 deaths per year in the USA over the last 10 years from the seasonal flu. 

#4. The benefits: 
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes, like hospitalizations and deaths.
    • A recent study* showed that flu vaccine reduced children’s risk of flu-related pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission by 74% during flu seasons from 2010-2012.
    • One study showed that flu vaccination was associated with a 71% reduction in flu-related hospitalizations among adults of all ages and a 77% reduction among adults 50 years of age and older during the 2011-2012 flu season.
    • Flu vaccination is an important preventive tool for people with chronic health conditions. Vaccination was associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year. Flu vaccination also has been shown to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes (79%) and chronic lung disease (52%).
    • Vaccination helps protect women during pregnancy and their babies for up to 6 months after they are born. One study showed that giving flu vaccine to pregnant women was 92% effective in preventing hospitalization of infants for flu.
    • Other studies have shown that vaccination can reduce the risk of flu-related hospitalizations in older adults. A study that looked at flu vaccine effectiveness over the course of three flu seasons estimated that flu vaccination lowered the risk of hospitalizations by 61% in people 50 years of age and older.
References for the studies listed above can be found at Publications on Influenza Vaccine Benefits.