Category Archives: Blogosphere

Open Thread for Thursday, October 19, 2017

Oh, and another thing: I forgot to share myoutrage at a local Walmart being full of Christmas stuff, way back on Oct. 7.

Oh, and another thing: I forgot to share my outrage when I found Walmart full of Christmas stuff, way back on Oct. 7.

Not much going on, but here are some topics:

  1. Sure, There’s A Health Care Deal. That Doesn’t Mean It Can Pass — I’m leading off with this because, whatever happens, I’m proud of Lamar Alexander for working so hard to find a bipartisan solution. I’d be proud of Patty Murray, too, except I don’t know her.
  2. Bush Speech Is Seen as Rebuke to Trump, Who Goes Unnamed — You tell him, Dubya! As Jennifer Rubin wrote about it, “This is what a president sounds like.”
  3. What would happen if Amazon brought 50,000 workers to your city? Ask Seattle. — What if they build HQ2 here? Would we like that, or not?
  4. Who gets $60 million when nuke project fails? SCANA execs with golden parachutes could — Just to keep you outraged. I mean, that’s a bunch of money. It’s more than I make in a year.
  5. This Is What Victory Over ISIS Looks Like in Syria and Iraq — Such is the constant political freak show in Washington that it seems we’ve almost entirely overlooked the fact that we’ve sort of, you know, won the war against ISIL. I think….
  6. Dear Men: It’s You, Too — Apparently, we’re all Harvey Weinstein, this writer seems to think. And in a way that may be true, but not in the chock-full-of-ideology way the essayist seems to mean it.
You go, Lamar! Alexander back in the days when I covered him.

You go, Lamar! Alexander back in the days when I covered him.

Open Thread for Monday, October 16, 2017

What's this? I don't know. The category was "Any other meritorious vegetable," which cracked me up.

What’s this? I don’t know. The category was “Any other meritorious vegetable,” which cracked me up.

Some random topics:

  1. I recommend the pork chop-on-a-stick — Have you been to the Fair yet? What did you eat? I tried the pork chop-on-a-stick, and it was really good, once I removed the stick — about 3/4 thick, nicely grilled and tender. It may have been the most normal Fair food I’ve every tried. Goes well with Fiske Fries…
  2. Scientists detect gravitational waves from new kind of nova, sparking new era in astronomy — This is pretty old news: It happened 130 million years ago. Still, the science boffins are excited.
  3. Iraqi Forces Seize Kirkuk, in Blow to Kurdish Separatists — This is a real mess. For whom should we root? Normally, I abhor separatism. But the Kurds have been worthy allies, and they’ve taken a lot of grief from their neighbors. Should they have their own homeland?
  4. Deserter Bergdahl pleads guilty — And what a long, strange trip it’s been.
  5. Trump stumps for McMaster in Greenville — This hasn’t happened yet as I write, but I put it on here in case y’all want to talk about it.

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Open Thread for Thursday, October 12, 2017

"Perdicaris alive, or Raisuli dead!"

“Perdicaris alive, or Raisuli dead!”

A few topics to consider:

  1. Trump threatens to abandon Puerto Rico recovery efforts Really? What a petulant child… In the same vein, how about his threat to NBC?… He is just so embarrassing…
  2. Jeff Duncan worries admitting girls will ‘destroy’ Boy Scouts — Well, I guess they’ll have to change the name, anyway. Meanwhile, the Girl Scouts are steamed. It all seems pretty odd to me. But what do I know? I never made it past Tenderfoot.
  3. Dueling Confederate flag controversies — First, go read Cindi’s column. Then, consider this: I think her points are mostly sound, but it seems to me the Orangeburg guy might have a case to make that his neighbor’s actions are lowering his property value and possibly even putting him in danger. I’d be particularly interested in what you lawyers would think of that.
  4. American woman and famly freed in Pakistan after 5-year hostage ordeal — And why didn’t I know about this before now? I guess because nowadays presidents don’t go around saying things like “Perdicaris alive, or Raisuli dead!” Then we would have heard about it!
  5. Spain asks Catalonia: Did you declare independence or not? — Good question. And from there we should be able to have a good discussion about separatism in general. For my part, I don’t hold with it.
  6. Trump signs order to eliminate Affordable Care Act insurance rules — Hmmm. Maybe it’s just me, but I have this vague memory of Republicans thinking it was really, really bad for Obama to do things administratively that he couldn’t get done through legislation…
  7. Happy real Columbus Day! — Never mind the controversies, which to me are neither here nor there. Just enjoy the cartoon. (And yes, I know that everybody knew the world was round, and that Columbus was wrong about how big it was. It’s just the untrue story is funnier.)…

Open Thread for Friday, September 29, 2017

Gerrymandering goes before SCOTUS next week...

Gerrymandering goes before SCOTUS next week…

Slow news day, but let’s see what we can find:

  1. U.S. to Pull Embassy Staff in Cuba After Mysterious Attacks — This is one of the weirdest items out there, and it’s been percolating in the background for awhile. What have the Cubans — if it’s them — been doing?
  2. The U.S. Is Beating Back ISIS, So What Comes Next? — Trump left the generals alone, and they’re finishing the job started under Obama. But now what? Just leave everybody standing in the rubble, and expect that another ISIS won’t arise? And what about that Kurdish independence vote earlier in the week?
  3. Gerrymandering, a Tradition as Old as the Republic, Faces a Reckoning — OK, we can’t read this because it’s behind the WSJ paywall. But I post this as a reminder that next Tuesday, the issue goes before the Supreme Court. Reforming reapportionment, if we can find a way to do it, remains THE thing that would do more to improve politics in this country than anything else.
  4. ‘I’m going to work until I die’: The new reality of old age in America — I don’t even think I’ll read this. Stuff like this is so depressing…
  5. Miss these guys yet? You betcha. — This is a column by Jennifer Rubin. It starts: “They looked relaxed, comfortable in their own skin and happy to be in each other’s’ company. They looked normal. The sight of former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at the Presidents Cup golf tournament made one downright nostalgic — and a little sheepish about not appreciating them more when they were in office, even the ones we passionately disagreed with.”

presidents

Open Thread for Thursday, September 28, 1017

What was with the stupid hat? Makes me think Gilligan is nearby...

What was with the stupid hat? Click on pic to see what I mean. Where’s Gilligan?…

Will I ever catch up with the episodes of “The Vietnam War?” Maybe, maybe not. In the meantime, here’s an Open Thread:

  1. Is nuclear fiasco beginning of the end for SCANA? — And if so, does it mean anything, Mr. Natural?
  2. GOP Tax Proposal Expected to Benefit Wall Street Firms — That headline is leading The Wall Street Journal at the moment. Which means it’s a good-news, feel-good story, right? Bud and Doug, have at it. I’m going to step out of the way now…
  3. Death of a famous sleazebag — Not that I’m minimizing Hef’s achievements, mind you — he managed to tap into the sleaze in all of us guys, after all. And back in the ’60s, he fooled a lot of us into thinking his was the sophisticated way to go. He wasn’t content to make us sexual materialists — he was about bachelor pads crammed with all the latest cool stuff. But didn’t his smirk always make you feel kind of creeped out a little? Perhaps someone will write an in-ter-esting article about it all.
  4. Alabama defeat weakens and isolates Trump as his problems grow — That headline is leading The Washington Post right now, and you know what? I think it’s completely wrong. Trump didn’t lose in Alabama. The people who voted for the winner love him, and hate McConnell. Isn’t that the impression you have? To me, this is another triumph of Trumpism, never mind that he sorta kinda backed the wrong guy.
  5. Miracles really do happen’: Scalise returns to Congress, 15 weeks after shooting — For an actual feel-good story…
  6. Jared Kushner registered to vote as a woman. It’s not his first paperwork mistake. — Until we get this sorted out, I think he should be barred from using bathrooms in the White House.

Open Thread for Thursday, September 14, 2017

Y’all haven’t really been interested in my (admittedly quirky) posts so far today, so talk amongst yourselves about whatever. Here are some possible topics. (Oh, the video? It’s about Dreamers. Get it? Dream On?):

  1. Trump Now Says He Backs Deal to Protect ‘Dreamers’ — That’s his position on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, however… Meanwhile, GOP’s Ryan dismisses potential DACA deal between Trump and Democrats. Oh, and Trump’s until-now loyal base is ticked
  2. U.S. Supreme Court justice wants others to think like lawyers — This was Samuel Alito, speaking at the dedication of the new USC Law School. This should make Juan’s day. But yeah, I think we’d be better off if more people did think like lawyers. Not everybody. But more people.
  3. After Oval Office meeting, Tim Scott says Trump ‘got it’ on Charlottesville — Yeah… OK… riiight. Poor Tim Scott. He’s trying so hard to hang onto this being-a-Republican thing in the age of Trump. It can’t be easy for him.
  4. Frank Vincent, Who Portrayed Dapper Mobsters, Dies — Best known for telling Tommy (Joe Pesci) to go get his shinebox…
  5. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will soon crash into Saturn — its final screaming success — There’s no astronauts, but it’s a pretty good story, anyway. 15 hours left as I type this…

Cassini

Pharma Bro’s going to jail, but we can’t lock them all up, can we?

Pharma Bro

What a weird world we are living in.

You probably saw this last night:

NEW YORK — A federal judge on Wednesday revoked the $5 million bail of Martin Shkreli, the infamous former hedge fund manager convicted of defrauding investors, after prosecutors complained that his out-of-court antics posed a danger to the community.

While awaiting sentencing, Shkreli has harassed women online, prosecutors argued, and even offered his Facebook followers $5,000 to grab a strand of Hillary Clinton’s hair during her book tour. Shkreli, who faces up to 20 years in prison for securities fraud, apologized in writing, saying that he did not expect anyone to take his online comments seriously, and his attorneys pleaded with the judge Wednesday to give him another chance.

“The fact that he continues to remain unaware of the inappropriateness of his actions or words demonstrates to me that he may be creating ongoing risk to the community,” said U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, in revoking his bond.

“This is a solicitation of assault. That is not protected by the First Amendment.”…

And… I think the judge is right, as weird as it is to think of saying “pull Hillary Clinton’s hair” being on a par with yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. (If he’d just said, “I’d like to pull her hair,” that would be one thing. But offering to pay people to do it?)

But everything about this situation is weird. And weird in ways that are fairly unique to the times in which we live.

The strangeness starts with Shkreli himself. His own attorneys defended him with the argument that Hey, he’s a weird guy. He can’t help it. He’s always been this way.

But in the past, did people described as being as “strange” as “Rain Man” rise to make millions in business? Yeah, maybe they did — but their weirdness was easier to hide.

What has changed is the shape and consistency of the public sphere. In the past, a guy like Shkreli might spout nonsense like “Bring me a hair from Hillary Clinton’s head!” from a barstool — until the bartender cut him off — but no one would hear him past the end of the bar.

Now, there’s social media, and any idiot with the ability to create a username and password — not a high bar — can immediately have a reach that mass media outlets in the past would have envied, instantly sharing his ravings with the entire planet without having to pay a dime to do so. And this virtual social sphere, not having had thousands of years to develop customs and standards, is a verbal Wild West.

Outside this blog and other mediated spaces, there are no rules. Of course, some people — being civilized souls — will restrain themselves. Civilization is not entirely dead. But millions of others will not, and will revel in the lack of constraints.

And while Shkreli is an unusual, extreme case, this lack of constraint is particularly common among certain demographic subsets. Forgive me for stereotyping, but I’m mostly picturing disaffected young men, who care nothing for civility toward society as a whole but will go to any extremes to draw the attention — and possible approval, even admiration — of others like themselves.

Whether you’re talking Pharma Bros or Bernie Bros or Neofascist Bros or simply fraternity bros, we are unfortunate enough to live in a time when it’s harder to simply ignore them and wait for them to outgrow it. And of course, the “bro” period lasts much longer than it once did, far beyond the age when they would have done a hitch in the Army and/or gotten married and had kids of their own and otherwise taken on responsibility in the past.

And we can’t just throw them all in jail, can we?

Open Thread for Monday, September 11, 2017

Part of a tree has fallen across my neighbor's driveway. That's all I've seen, I'm happy to say.

Part of a tree has fallen across my neighbor’s driveway. That’s all I’ve seen, I’m happy to say.

I decided to stay home today. You? Here are some possible topics:

  1. Anything to report about Irma? — My parents have no power at their house. They were told about 6,000 homes are in a similar situation. And there’s that tree across my neighbor’s house above. You?
  2. Irma knocks out power to more than 6 million in Florida — Which, I suppose, puts our 6,000 into perspective.
  3. Desperation in Caribbean: ‘All the Food Is Gone’ — And then, farther south, things are worse than that. Which is usually the case.
  4. From Sept. 11 To The Beatles’ British Invasion: How We Remember Our First News Events — It seems incredible to those of us who were stunned by JFK’s assassination, but there are actual, technical adults walking around for whom 9/11 was the first huge news event they can recall. For others, it’s smaller events such as the death of Princess Diana.
  5. Pope Francis: If Trump is ‘pro-life,’ he should extend DACA — You bet.

Open Thread for Friday, September 8, 2017

noaa-satimage_custom-81e92bf1ee06c715899f7c2edef377352b8406fc-s1500-c85

Not much going on beyond weather:

  1. Irma likely to hit Florida as ‘a dangerous major hurricane’ — Yeah, I’ve been hearing that. Meanwhile, we may be out of the woods — or are we?
  2. USC cancels classes for Hurricane Irma — This surprised me a little, Here’s a story about other closings.
  3. House sends $15 billion Harvey aid package to Trump despite boos, hisses from Republicans — Well, just as long as they behaved like grownups, right? Anybody besides me had it with these absurd people?
  4. Spicer, Priebus, Hicks among six current and former top White House aides Mueller will likely seek to interview — Is it just me, or are headlines getting longer these days?
  5. Should they stay or should they go? Two Floridians on their choice — I only included this to set up the video below…

Open Thread for Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Bad news is, a hurricane's coming. Good news is, the cool sign language dude is back!

Bad news is, a hurricane’s coming. Good news is, the awesome sign language dude is back!

Things continue to be weird out there:

  1. Trump sides with Democrats on debt ceiling, throwing GOP plans into chaos — Golly, it almost makes my post yesterday about the way he and Dems sometimes agree seem prophetic. Almost. In any case, I guess he really was ticked off at the GOP leadership…
  2. Hurricane Irma Churns Across Caribbean With Lashing Winds — It hit Barbuda as a Category 5.
  3. Irma’s approach prompts McMaster to order state of emergency — But I mentioned that already….
  4. Plastic fibres found in tap water around the world, study reveals — This is an exclusive by The Guardian (which is why it’s spelled “fibre”). You know what? As soon as I read that, it hit me that sometimes when I drink tap water, it kind of smells like molten plastic…
  5. How Red Sox Used Tech to Steal Signs From Yankees — An interesting baseball story, which I offer in another vain attempt to distract y’all from football. The BoSox supposedly used Apple Watches and other tech to steal signs. Makes me sort of nostalgic for the days when players cheated with a little Vaseline stored under the bills of their caps.
Forget about the curve ball, Ricky. Give him the heater!

Forget about the curve ball, Ricky. Give him the heater!

Open Thread for (late) Thursday, August 31, 2017

The nuclear expansion that wasn't.

The nuclear expansion that wasn’t.

Better late than never, right?

  1. Merrill resigns a day before possible guilty plea in corruption probe — I hope for The State‘s sake that he really does plead guilty Friday morning, after that hed.
  2. In Tit-for-Tat Move, U.S. Orders Russia to Close a Consulate — You close one a ours, we close one a yours — bada-bing!
  3. Trump officials slash advertising, grants that help Americans get health coverage — You know how Trump and Republicans talk about letting the ACA fail on its own. Their plan for letting it do that involve shooting it in the head first.
  4. Santee Cooper leaders were paid bonuses for failed nuclear project — Drip, drip, drip. The hits keep comin’.
  5. Trump-Russia inquiry: what you missed in a week dominated by Harvey — A nice service from The Guardian for distracted Americans.

Open Thread for Thursday, August 24, 2017

Lonnie Carter at that event in Bamberg back in March.

Lonnie Carter at that event in Bamberg back in March.

A few quick topics:

  1. Source: Santee Cooper chief Lonnie Carter to leave job Friday — You know, it was Lonnie who first told me how bad the situation was with the project. I ran into him at an event in Bamberg back in March and asked how things were going. He shared his worries about the situation. (I’d have written about it at the time, but I didn’t feel like I had a good-enough grasp of the details — and the fact that the project was in trouble wasn’t news in itself.) Perhaps even then, he foresaw this result.
  2. Trump’s Identity Politics — The blurb with this Tom Edsall piece says, “The more white voters care about being white, the more they like President Trump.” Reminds me of something I said at a Community Relations Council event just the other day. I noted that unlike a lot of women and minorities, most white guys couldn’t care less about being white guys. But a few do, and those are the guys you need to watch out for…
  3. Giant Gamecock statue won’t be ready for football season — Oh, no! How will the team and the fans go on! Should we cancel the season? Should we cancel the semester at USC? Since we’re talking about monuments, I want to go ahead and be the first to say we should take this one down as soon as it goes up. Because, you know, cockfighting is illegal, so we shouldn’t glorify it. Just kidding (sort of), football fans!
  4. Escalating feud, Trump blames McConnell, Ryan for upcoming ‘mess’ on debt ceiling — That’s the WashPost version of the story. For other approaches, the NYT has “Trump Warns of Shutdown if Border Wall Isn’t Funded” and NPR reports, “Trump’s Fractured Relationship With Congress Causes GOP Dread.” Yeah, the poor, pitiful GOP, which inflicted this guy on us. I’m just sitting up nights worrying about them and their endangered agenda — especially since, you know, the first thing on it was taking health coverage away from millions…
  5. Navy names 10 sailors missing since McCain collision, begins recovery operation — How did this happen again? Is this part of some deep strategy to convince China they don’t need to build up their Navy because we’re so incompetent?

How was the eclipse for YOU?

Just moments before totality: Some of my neighbors were SERIOUS about this thing. I found this scene when I race down the street in my truck trying to escape the shadow of a cloud.

Just moments before totality: Some of my neighbors were SERIOUS about this thing. I found this scene when I raced down the street in my truck trying to escape the shadow of a cloud.

I thought it was pretty great. The hype failed to ruin it for me, as I feared it might.

Your thoughts? Here are some of my Tweets before, during and after:

That was pre-totality. The following are post-totality…

My front walk during totality. The lights actually came on several minutes BEFORE, but didn't show up as well in that photo...

My front walk during totality. The lights actually came on several minutes BEFORE, but didn’t show up as well in that photo…

Dr. Strangetweet or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Don

Nothing. I just wanted to use that headline.

What a week.

Do you remember in the movie, when Peter Sellers as the President has his phone conversation with the Soviet premier?

Hello? Hello, Dimitri? Listen, I can’t hear too well, do you suppose you could turn the music down just a little? Oh, that’s much better. Yes. Fine, I can hear you now, Dimitri. Clear and plain and coming through fine. I’m coming through fine too, eh? Good, then. Well then as you say we’re both coming through fine. Good. Well it’s good that you’re fine and I’m fine. I agree with you. It’s great to be fine. laughs Now then Dimitri. You know how we’ve always talked about the possibility of something going wrong with the bomb. The bomb, Dimitri. The hydrogen bomb. Well now what happened is, one of our base commanders, he had a sort of, well he went a little funny in the head. You know. Just a little… funny. And uh, he went and did a silly thing. Well, I’ll tell you what he did, he ordered his planes… to attack your country. Well let me finish, Dimitri. Let me finish, Dimitri. Well, listen, how do you think I feel about it? Can you imagine how I feel about it, Dimitri? Why do you think I’m calling you? Just to say hello? Of course I like to speak to you. Of course I like to say hello. Not now, but any time, Dimitri. I’m just calling up to tell you something terrible has happened. It’s a friendly call. Of course it’s a friendly call. Listen, if it wasn’t friendly, … you probably wouldn’t have even got it.

The source of the comedy is that he is SO reasonable, so measured, so like a supremely patient elementary school teacher in his effort to calm the drunken Russian. Deferential. Diffident. Studiously unprovocative.

That doesn’t seem quite as funny now…

Dr-Strangelove-3-1

A simple, human appeal for civility

This morning, I saw a Tweet that said the following:

And my curiosity was piqued. What sort of a piece would have a headline like that? I was guessing it was a Dear Abby-type advice column. I HOPED it wasn’t a let-it-all-hang-out piece by an identified person talking about his or her family. That is, I hoped those pictures in the illustration weren’t of the actual people involved.

I didn’t think they were, but I was curious enough to click and find out.

What I found was something that puzzled me. It had the anonymous person writing in, but not the answer from the “Abby” figure. No advice at all. Just the personal problem set out, followed by comments.

But the thing I liked was the editor’s note that lay between the problem and the comments. It went like this:

When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

It was a standard “Don’t respond just to be a jerk” appeal, but I liked the way it tried to reach, oh-so-optimistically, the humanity in the responder, however dormant it might be.

you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help…

If only people could always keep that in mind. Too many of us have trouble with that. I’ve written about this before, but I will again: Nonjournalists think of reporters as cynical jerks who no more consider the humanity of their subjects than they would the hopes and dreams of an ant under a magnifying glass.

But that’s actually not the case. Their editors might be that way, if they don’t get out of the office much. And copy editors are the most dismissive cynics to be found in a newsroom. To them, newsmakers are abstractions, distant figures even farther from them than the ant under the glass. Copy editors who work on morning newspapers can be, in my experience, the worst, because they don’t meet many people, period. Their hours don’t allow for it, and their reality becomes what they read on a screen, and the company of the other cynics that sit around them, the more extroverted of them making sarcastic cracks about the people in the news — and about the stupid reporters who apparently have never consulted a stylebook.

Reporters, by contrast, know their subjects — even the worst among them — as people. They see the newsmakers whole, as living, breathing creatures. They may be tough on them, but they know they’re being tough on fellow humans. Reporters have to be able to do that in order to connect with sources and do their jobs.

There are a lot of readers out there who are like those copy editors. The people they read about aren’t real to them.

So while it may or may not work, I appreciate that approach to asking commenters to be civil. The first step is remembering that the people they’re responding to are people…

5325

Open Thread for Wednesday, August 9, 2017

google symbols

Here we go with some topics. Add others if you’ve a mind to:

  1. Trump’s Threat of ‘Fire and Fury’ Raises Alarm in Asia — Yeah, I suppose it would. Tillerson says we should all rest easy. Why? Is Trump resigning, and he’s only told Rex? Who says stuff like this — other than, say, a Kim Jong Un? Or maybe a Saddam “Mother of All Battles” Hussein? He really, truly does not know the difference between talking like a tinhorn blowhard dictator and talking like the leader of the Free World. I like this headline in The Post: “Trump’s threats to North Korea were spontaneous and not drafted by advisers, officials say.” In other words, “Pay no attention to this guy; he’s only the president.”
  2. Top SCANA execs paid millions in bonuses for roles in failed nuclear project — Meanwhile, a state agency is challenging SCANA’s plans to further charge ratepayers for the cost of the abandoned project.
  3. FBI raided ex-Trump campaign chairman’s home for Russia probe — Nothing like a predawn raid to add spice to an investigation.
  4. McMaster rejects call to suspend Wilson over corruption probe — As you would expect. A Democrat raised this question to me last night: Why do you suppose the 2nd Vice Chair of the party made the initial demand for Wilson to go, instead of Trav Robertson? Interesting question, but now moot, since the chair has now issued the same demand. Doesn’t make it any more likely to happen, though. And I think they knew that going in, hence the lower-level statement.
  5. What about the firing of that Google guy? — I’m a couple of days late on this, but it seems some of y’all might have an interest in discussing it. My take? I suspect that the top brass felt like they had to fire him to cover their insecurity over being, you know, nerdy white guys themselves. Beyond that, I kind of liked Ross Douthat’s take. Check it out.
  6. Goodbye to Glen Campbell — Until he died yesterday. I didn’t know he was once a member of the Wrecking Crew. Cool to know. I can’t say I was ever a huge fan, although I did watch his TV show. I thought “Wichita Lineman” a particularly fine song (“Galveston,” too.). I wish they hadn’t junked it up with the strings, although I like that this clip is from the Smothers Brothers show, before Campbell’s own…

OK, I’m getting sick and tired of these paywalls

paywall

Of course, of course, of course newspapers should have charged for their content online, starting in the 1990s when the Web was a novelty everybody was playing around with.

But nobody did, so nobody thought we could.

The fact that we didn’t was sort of a boon to journalists, while a looming nightmare to the business side: We could all access each other’s copy for free in real time — no more need to convince my publisher every year to let me keep that budget line for Lexis-Nexis. (That one stuck in his craw, every time. I think on some level he thought I was using the newspaper’s money to buy myself a luxury car.)

And we all got used to that, as did readers. Which made it all that much harder to get away with putting up a pay wall. People had come to expect free news as their right.

But finally, much too late, pretty much everyone has realized they need to charge for news that it costs them dearly to produce. (Reporters don’t get paid much, but they’re not free. Editors even less so.)

And between that and the pop-up ads that repeatedly jump up between you and what you’re trying to read (yet another scrappy effort to regain fiscal viability), reading newspaper content online has increasingly become less of a pleasure, and more of a chore.

Yesterday and today, I was trying to read the Post and Courier‘s story on Alan Wilson and the Quinns, and not succeeding. I’d call up the story, it would appear tantalizingly, for a couple of seconds, and then disappear behind a dialogue box urging me to subscribe. When I declined, the screen immediately reverted to the home page, where I could only see the headline. (Eventually, a link Doug shared with me worked, and I was able to read the story.)

While I was in the midst of that, someone shared with me a link to this story in The Wall Street Journal about effective passwords. Since my subscription expired months ago, my initial effort to read it failed. Then, I went to the old workaround that hasn’t been working for me lately (Google the precise headline of the story, and call it up directly from the search page) and this time it worked! But that might be related to the fact that this was the daily A-hed story. (That’s that one fun, featury read that the Journal puts on the front page every day.) And if I remember correctly, the A-hed has been free to read for years — which is smart, because it gives prospective subscribers the impression that the Journal is a fun paper to read.

And as you all know, The State has been more and more insistent that you pay to play. In fact, a couple of months back I thought they were getting sort of obsessive about it. Three days in a row, I was forced to log in yet again in order to read the paper on my iPad app. I found this sufficiently irritating that I complained about it on Twitter — and it hasn’t happened since. I don’t think there was a cause-and-effect relationship there, but I found the result satisfying nevertheless. Almost like I still had some pull…

Of course, an awful lot of content out there remains free, to an extent. If not for that, we’d see Twitter grind to a halt — or at least, the kinds of Tweets that I value, the ones that provide links to content. And if you’re a light user, you may never, for instance, exceed The New York Times‘ allotment of 10 free stories a month. But if you’re a heavy user like me, you end up having to knuckle under and subscribe. And for how much longer, I wonder, will they allow those 10 freebies, month after month?

But it’s getting to be more work, and/or more expensive, to keep up with the news on the Web. I wish I thought that was going to save newspapers — or better yet, return the to their glory days. If I did, I’d find these barriers less irritating…

WSJ paywall

Open Thread for Monday, August 7, 2017

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Nikki and the Brits voting on new North Korea sanctions Saturday.

Some items to chew on while I run to the Red Cross to give platelets:

  1.  North Korea Says It Would Use Nukes Only Against U.S. — Is this supposed to make us all feel better?
  2. SC Dems call on Alan Wilson to resign over State House corruption probe — This is apparently about Wilson seeking advice from Richard Quinn on his approach to getting rid of Pascoe, back in 2014. I say “apparently” because I can’t get past the Post and Courier’s paywall.
  3. As Coal Seeks a Comeback Under Trump, the West Is Split — The NYT is leading with this. So, is this what we’re doing instead of building nuclear plants?
  4. Atheists tend to be seen as immoral – even by other atheists: study — Wow. And you thought they were tough on believers
  5. Why Does Trump Remain So Witless About the World? — This is a New Yorker piece quoting such people as Max Boot about how amazed they are at how little POTUS knows, and uninterested he is in learning.
  6. Al Green sings ‘To Sir With Love’ — No, this isn’t news, although it was to me. I never knew he had covered this. Heard it for the first time over the weekend, and loved it. Not saying it’s better than Lulu’s, or even as good as his best stuff, such as, say, “Love and Happiness.” It was just a nice weekend surprise for me — two worlds colliding, but in a good way — so I thought I’d share.