Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, February 22, 2013 8:41 pm

Want to run a newspaper? Here’s how you do it right.

Finally, finally, finally, the owner of a newspaper has told the geeks, waterheads, nematodes, mouth-breathers and knuckle-dragging readers who masturbate to gun ads but can’t STAND the possibility that their local newspaper might publish a story about two happy people doing something that’s none of their damn business to take their whiny, misprioritized complaints and shove them north toward their tonsils.

God, I need a cigarette. And I haven’t smoked in almost 35 years.

Our story begins when Jessica Powell and Crystal Craven — yes, that’d be two people with ladyparts — got married in, believe it, Jones County, Missafreakingsippi, the left ventricle of Bat Country. The Laurel Leader-Call newspaper did a front page story, acknowledging the historic (albeit legally unrecognized) nature of the event, and then basically letting the protagonists speak for themselves and for each other — not an approach recommended for political coverage, but perfectly acceptable for a wedding story. (Bonus pathos: Craven has Stage 4 brain cancer.)

Well, Leader-Call readers freaked out. They called. They wrote. They virtually spat on the paper’s Facebook page.

So how did the paper’s owner, Jim Cegielski, respond?

Did he pretend there was no controversy? Or that if there was, it was OK to ignore it? Did he, God forbid, send an underling out to lie to people about his position or lack thereof instead of manning up and doing his job?

Oddly, no.

He stood up. He took responsibility. He told the people who were wrong that they were wrong. He told them to stop misbehaving toward his employees just because they’d read a story they didn’t like. And he told them that if they didn’t like all of the above, they could get bent. (If the link doesn’t go directly to Cegielski’s column, flip to page A5, where it’s at the top.)

And the horrible financial price the paper paid for this optimally competent exercise of its privileges and duties? Fifteen canceled subscriptions. Even in Laurel, Mississippi, that’s the equivalent of a few households going away for a long weekend.

So here’s a suggestion to people who want to run newspapers that both make money and bond with with their communities in ways that make long-term profitability even possible: Do your jobs. Be right. And when you are right, take no shit from those who are wrong, particularly when it’s aimed at your underlings. Even most of those who disagree with you will respect that; wanting your boss to have your back is a nonpartisan policy goal in and out of newspapers.

I’m sure Warren Buffett’s BH Media already has some decent ideas about how to dig the News & Record out of the hole it has dug for itself in the past five or so years (not all of which, I hasten to add, is local talent’s fault). But I’m betting that sending someone to Laurel to buy Jim Cegielski lunch and listen to him talk for an hour would not be a bad strategy at all.

(h/t: Gawker via Athenae)

 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012 7:29 pm

It really does get better

Filed under: Love — Lex @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , , ,

Sometimes we just need reminding.

Sunday, April 8, 2012 9:05 pm

He Is Risen: An outsourced reflection, a prediction, a prayer

I spent this weekend finishing up a final project for one of my courses for the semester. Save a proofreading, it’s done, and I can turn it in two weeks early. Which is good, because the project in the other course is going to kill me, but that’s not today’s point.

What’s today’s point, and yesterday’s, and, really, the point for all of Holy Week and the point for all time for anyone who claims to be a Christian or just admires Christ as a historical figure, is the radical nature of what Jesus asked us to do and who he asked us to be. I’ve read volumes on that subject over the years, and despite my misanthropy, recent dearth of church-going and occasional proclivity for PG-13 language here, I take it seriously.

And I’ve found few pithier summaries than this one, posted on Good Friday by Charlie Pierce. He responded to a temporal event in a specifically Roman Catholic context with small-c catholic truths that show no sign of dimming after 2,000 years:

… the liturgies of Holy Week … are the most moving because the one thing they’re not about is authority.

Authority is the villain during Holy Week. Secular authority, in the person of Pontius Pilate. Religious authority, in the institution of the Sanhedrin. What matters most throughout the season is the individual conscience. As Garry Wills never tires of pointing out, Christ did not make priests. He did not make a Church. And he sure as all hell didn’t make a Pope …

What stands out in the Holy Week services is humility in the face of unreasoning authority. What stands out, ultimately, and whether you believe in the Resurrection or not, or think the whole thing is a bunch of hooey imported from the Egyptian mystery cults or somewhere, is that, in the story of Easter week, unreasoning authority loses. It loses badly.

I am under no illusions about what life is going to be like in this country in the coming decade or two. Our bankers are going to insist that the rest of us kiss their asses and give them our money, and no one is going to stop them. Our church leaders are going to continue to engage in the decades-long continuing criminal enterprise of protecting child abusers and enabling history’s biggest thieves. Our police officers are going to use sexual humiliation to subjugate us and pepper spray and worse to keep us from exercising the rights our ancestors (and some of our contemporaries) died to obtain and protect, all in the name of protecting unreasoning authority. And our so-called leaders are going to continue to ignore the protests that the Earth itself is voicing in the plainest language, because, as Upton Sinclair famously observed, it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his paycheck depends upon his not understanding it.

And, make no mistake, the pain will be widespread and it will be awful. We or people close to us will lose jobs, homes, health, even lives. And as bad as it will be here, it will be worse still in other places, many already enduring suffering unimaginable to most Americans.  I’m old enough not to care so much anymore about myself, but I’m terrified for my kids.

But, as cynical and pessimistic as I am, I also have faith — literally, the belief in and hope for something of which no evidence is visible — in this: Every single theft, every single swindle, every single assault, every single official lie, every act of abuse and dereliction of duty, every sin of commission and sin of omission by our unreasoning authorities, will, by engendering actions by Americans, others, or even God’s creation itself, bend the long moral arc of the universe just a tiny fraction closer to justice … in this world or the next.

Amen. Be armed, but go in peace.

Sunday, December 25, 2011 6:07 pm

Silent Night

Filed under: Fun,Love — Lex @ 6:07 pm
Tags:

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 7:52 pm

The next time someone asks me why we shouldn’t just abandon all hope …

Filed under: Love,Y'all go read this — Lex @ 7:52 pm
Tags: , ,

… I’m pointing them to this.

Monday, June 14, 2010 10:50 pm

Full circle

Filed under: Love — Lex @ 10:50 pm
Tags: , ,

As a mid-1980s screaming-Top-40 disc jockey, I found Kool & the Gang’s “Celebrate” to be one of the many banes of my existence. But I still think this is sweet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 10:53 pm

Obama, hospitals and same-sex couples

I recently got into it with Joe Guarino over at his place regarding the concept of equal rights, particularly as it applies to gay people in the United States. I’m struggling to come up with a way to characterize Joe’s position without descending into snark because, to me, it appears to violate the letter and spirit of both the Second Great Commandment and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Perhaps it would be easier just to say that Joe apparently sees no problem with this:

Clay and his partner of 20 years, Harold, lived in California. Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place — wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other. Harold was 88 years old and in frail medical condition, but still living at home with Clay, 77, who was in good health.

One evening, Harold fell down the front steps of their home and was taken to the hospital. Based on their medical directives alone, Clay should have been consulted in Harold’s care from the first moment. Tragically, county and health care workers instead refused to allow Clay to see Harold in the hospital. The county then ultimately went one step further by isolating the couple from each other, placing the men in separate nursing homes.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling.

Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home. Because of the county’s actions, Clay missed the final months he should have had with his partner of 20 years. Compounding this tragedy, Clay has literally nothing left of the home he had shared with Harold or the life he was living up until the day that Harold fell, because he has been unable to recover any of his property. The only memento Clay has is a photo album that Harold painstakingly put together for Clay during the last three months of his life.

“Clay and Harold made diligent efforts to protect their legal rights, and had their legal paperwork in place — wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives, all naming each other.” And yet Sonoma County, California, said, essentially, “We don’t care. You don’t matter.”

If Joe Guarino thinks any county anywhere in the U.S. could or would just presumptively treat a similarly situated, heterosexual married couple like this, he’s insane. And if he thinks this treatment comports in any way with the equal-protection clause of the 14th Amendment, he’s an idiot. I’ve known Joe for years. Despite our political and religious differences, I like him. And for the record, I do not think he’s an idiot.

But he and a lot of people like him, for reasons that neither they nor anyone else can explain satisfactorily to those of us who stand on the plain meaning of the Constitution, take such a cramped, even hemorrhoidal view of constitutional rights that they find themselves casting about for justifications to violate the laws of God and man. And that, like hemorrhoids, leads only to blood and pain.

Here’s a clue for those folks: When both Jesus and Tom Jefferson are telling you you’re wrong, you’d do well to consider that possibility.

Saturday, February 13, 2010 12:28 am

Why you should never be late, and never accept anyone else’s excuses for being late, either

Filed under: Love,Sad — Lex @ 12:28 am
Tags:

Hey, if this guy can be on time, anyone can:

In the second PoW camp to which he was assigned, near Lamsdorf, he encountered the 17-year-old daughter of the director of the marble quarry to which the camp was attached.

She was working as an interpreter for the Germans, and, emaciated as he was, there was, Greasley said, an undeniable and instant mutual attraction.

Within a few weeks Greasley and Rosa were conducting their affair in broad daylight and virtually under the noses of the German guards – snatching meetings for trysts in the camp workshops and wherever else they could find. But at the end of a year, just as he was realising how much he cared for Rosa, Greasley was transferred to Freiwaldau, an annex of Auschwitz, some 40 miles away.

The only way to carry on the love affair was to break out of his camp. …

Greasley reckoned that short absences could be disguised or go unnoticed. Messages between him and Rosa were exchanged via members of outside work parties, who then handed hers on to Greasley, the camp barber, when they came to have their hair cut. When, with the help of friends, he did make it under the wire for an assignation nearby, he would break back into the camp again under cover of darkness to await his next opportunity.

Sometimes, Greasley reckoned, he made the return journey three or more times a week, depending on whether Rosa’s duties among various camps brought her to his vicinity.

That, my friends, is a Valentine’s story.

RIP.

Monday, January 11, 2010 10:55 pm

Odds and ends for 1/11

U.S. v. terror: Conviction rate in civilian courts? 88%. Conviction rate in military tribunals? 15%. So someone explain to me again why Dick and Liz Cheney are still getting airtime?

Harry Reid v. Trent Lott: To elaborate a bit on a comment discussion Fred and I had in a previous thread: What Harry Reid said about Obama was grossly awkward and inept, but he said it in a context of praising Obama. What Lott said, on the other hand, was praising a segregationist. These two things are not logically, linguistically or morally equivalent.

Guantanamo v. the Constitution: Those party animals at McClatchy News Service have served up a pyrotechnic package of print (with a whole bunch o’ Web stuff, too, including source documents) in observance of the eighth anniversary of the incarceration of the first terrorism suspects at Gitmo. The series touches on subjects ranging from holding, and torturing, innocent people to the Taliban’s influence within the prison (yeah, you read that right).

Generation R(ecession) v. the economy: Newsweek’s Rana Foroohar notes some interesting characteristics of people who come of age in bad economic times. Unfortunately, notes Chris Lehmann at The Awl, she draws some of the wrong conclusions.

Afghans v. everybody else: Incredibly mixed findings in this ABC News poll from Afghanistan. They hate both us and the Taliban. They almost unanimously think their government is corrupt, but they actually support President Hamid Karzai more than they used to. And they’re about evenly divided over whether civilian deaths are more NATO’s fault or more the insurgents’ fault for mingling with civilians.

Matt Labash v. perspective women: In his feature “Ask Matt Labash” on Tucker Carlson’s new anti-Huffington Post, the Daily Caller, Matt Labash calls red-light cameras “legalized rape” and calls Rachel Maddow “the sexiest man alive.” Way to court those swing voters, guys.

Dylan Ratigan v. Geithner: The MSNBC reporter/anchor is starting to carve pieces out of SecTreas Tim Geithner’s hide, and it couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy not named Bush, Cheney or Rove.

Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Gay marriage on trial — literally: The lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger went to trial today in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. At issue is the constitutionality of Proposition 8, enacted last year by referendum to deny the right of marriage to couples of the same sex in Cali. Expected to last about 3 weeks — with the case likely to end up before the Supreme Court no matter who wins. Your all-purpose source for trial info is here, and if the opening arguments are any indication — which they may or may not be — gay-marriage proponents are headed for a big win.

The perfect v. the very good: Actually, the U.S. health-care debate is now more like the acceptable (if you drop the Stupak amendment) v. the bad, and the bad is winning.

Law enforcement v. the drug war: A lot of former cops, judges and prosecutors have endorsed legalizing marijuana in California, where a legislative committee is scheduled to vote on just that next week. Whether the full legislature passes the bill may be immaterial, though; an initiative to regulate and tax pot is on the November ballot and expected to pass.

Congresscritters v. reality: About six in 10 Americans say terrorists probably will find some way to strike us again. Unfortunately, that’s probably correct, but you wouldn’t know it to listen to some of the Congressional Republicans who are suggesting that 1) we should all be peeing in our pants over the guy who nearly set his crotch on fire and 2) that if you torture enough people and bomb enough civilians, all terror can be prevented.

Time v. knowledge: I am shocked, shocked to learn just how many Balloon Juice commenters did not know that the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.

It’s like Vegas: What happens on Facebook stays on Facebook. Forever.

There an app for your cheapo phone if you’re a student at UNC-Wilmington, where a couple of people set out to create useful apps for the 88% of us who can’t afford smartphones.

Shorter Jonathan Alter: Clap louder and the Democrats will be fine in 2010.

Best SEC comment letter EVER: (h/t Zero Hedge)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:30 am

Happy birthday, Alex

Filed under: Love — Lex @ 11:30 am

Brando writes one heckuva birthday card for his Romanian-born wife on the occasion of her 30th.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005 6:01 am

” … the belief in things not seen … “

Filed under: Love — Lex @ 6:01 am

Meant to post this yesterday in honor of Valentine’s Day and forgot.

The Edge Foundation asked a bunch of smart people, “What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?” David Buss, a psychologist at the University of Texas, responded:

True love.I’ve spent two decades of my professional life studying human mating. In that time, I’ve documented phenomena ranging from what men and women desire in a mate to the most diabolical forms of sexual treachery. I’ve discovered the astonishingly creative ways in which men and women deceive and manipulate each other. I’ve studied mate poachers, obsessed stalkers, sexual predators, and spouse murderers. But throughout this exploration of the dark dimensions of human mating, I’ve remained unwavering in my belief in true love.

While love is common, true love is rare, and I believe that few people are fortunate enough to experience it. The roads of regular love are well traveled and their markers are well understood by many-the mesmerizing attraction, the ideational obsession, the sexual afterglow, profound self-sacrifice, and the desire to combine DNA. But true love takes its own course through uncharted territory. It knows no fences, has no barriers or boundaries. It’s difficult to define, eludes modern measurement, and seems scientifically wooly. But I know true love exists. I just can’t prove it.

OK, that’s it for sappy romanticism. We now return you to your previously scheduled snark ‘n’ outrage.

Friday, January 23, 2004 11:28 pm

The outer darkness

Filed under: Love — Lex @ 11:28 pm

C. over at Witt and Wisdom has a sad post up about Alzheimer’s and how it affected a relative of his.

It’s been years since my grandmother recognized me, although she doesn’t have Alzheimer’s — she’s just old. Turned 96 this week. Two and a half years ago, not long after our son was born, we went to visit her at her nursing home. It was a warm day, and we sat outside in a little gazebo. She asked if she could hold my son, so I held him in her lap (she uses a wheelchair and has pretty much lost the use of her left arm). She didn’t really know me anymore and, of course, was seeing her new great-grandson for the first time, but she started singing, in a low but clear Charleston voice, the same song she had sung to me more than 40 years ago, and to my mother decades before that …

“Br’er Rabbit is a cunning thing
He rambles in the dark
Never knows what danger is
‘Til he hears ol’ Rover bark.
Big-eyed Br’er Rabbit boo, boy …
Big-eyed Brer Rabbit boo … “

It took my breath away. Thinking about it now still does. And if there’s any grace I’ll take away from watching her slow slide toward death, it’s watching this woman who was vigorous enough in her 80s to join bridesmaids 60 years her junior in dancing at my wedding spending one of the last warm afternoons of her life surrounded by loving family and carrying on a tradition that bridges generations.

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