Archive for the 'All about me' Category

Blog moving!

November 21, 2008

We’re moving to a new address — I hope the last move for a long time. Please visit us over at the new site. Go there and bookmark it now, so you don’t forget — wouldn’t want to miss Monday’s posts, would you? How can you possibly start your week without yelling at me?


Catch me if you can

November 19, 2008

Joe Lieberman sort of gives the game away:

Lieberman claimed he was contrite Tuesday — sort of. The resolution that left him in charge of his committee also denounced some of his statements about Obama during the campaign. “Some of the things that people have said I said about Senator Obama are simply not true,” Lieberman told reporters, at the end of a news conference about his fate, where he stood behind Reid as the leader said he was in the clear. “There are other statements that I made that I wish I had made more clearly. And there are some that I made that I wish I had not made at all. And, obviously, in the heat of campaigns, that happens to all of us, but I regret that. And now it’s time to move on.” In the real world, that kind of passive-aggressive semi-apology might not fly. But this is the Senate — where just about anything does. And so Joe Lieberman is back in everyone’s good graces.

Lieberman supported McCain and trashed Obama, campaigned for Republicans and was generally a very bad boy as far as Democrates were concerned, but his vote is really needed now, and, besides, he said things he didn’t really mean. And when he did mean them, he said them badly or wished he hadn’t said them at all.

Man, I like that. So let me just say that if there’s anything I’ve written that you’ve disagreed with, I didn’t really mean it. And if you decide to disagree with anything I write in the future without first giving me the chance to say I said it badly or wished I hadn’t said it, you’re just being mean-spirited.

I don’t really mean that, of course.

Oh, yes, I do.

Watch your six

November 14, 2008

Dammit, where’s mine?

Three big city mayors asked the federal government Friday to use a portion of the $700 billion financial bailout to assist struggling cities.

The mayors sought help with their pension costs, infrastructure investment and cash-flow problems stemming from the global financial crisis.

The mayors — Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, Shirley Franklin of Atlanta and Phil Gordon of Phoenix — made their request in a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

I’m only half-kidding. Once the automakers get theirs, the line will start forming. Some are asking how Congress will know which ones to say no to. Don’t think they will. Handing out lots of federal money with lots of strings attached is what Congress likes to do. Any of us who don’t try to get in on it are just being stupid. I’ve seen this described elsewhere as a “reverse John Galt.” Instead of finally turning our backs on the takers and letting them fend for themselves, as the protagonist of “Atlas Shrugged” did, we simply join their ranks. “Hey, I know this is risky, but I don’t care. Obama’s got my six.”

(I had to explain to a friend, not familiar with aviators using an imaginary clock face to orient themselves, that having somebody’s six meant protecting their rear. At first, she thought it was one of the most fascinating locutions she’d ever encountered. But she thought about it a minute and said, “I’ve got your six — but it’ll cost you eight.” Smart woman.)

Beginning to look a lot like quichemass

November 14, 2008

Times-are-even-tougher-than-you-thought department:

In this brutal season of cutbacks, the office holiday party is getting downsized, too.

From American Express to MTV to the Bend, Ore., city government, employers are canceling Christmas celebrations because of the gloomy economy. At some other workplaces, last year’s catered affair is this season’s potluck.

“It’s grim,” said Daniel Briones, president of the National Association of Catering Executives and catering director at the Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia. He called the drop-off in business the worst since 2001, when the holidays unfolded in the shadow of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

For some companies, this is about appearances as much as money. No firm wants to be pilloried for plowing cash — in some cases, taxpayer dollars — into ice sculptures and raw bars while workers fear for their jobs and shareholders for their investments.

Grim, indeed. I’m happy to say we here in the newspaper business have been way ahead of this curve. When I started out, at a small chain in Wabash and then Michigan City, there was always an actual Christmas party at somebody’s house — usually somebody from upper management who wanted to seem like a regular guy. And it worked, at least on me — my affections couldn’t be bought, but they could be rented for the season.

When I came to Fort Wayne, I discovered the Christmas party was held at a nearby watering hole, either Henry’s or the back room of Coumbia Street West. In addition to a nice buffet, there was an open bar until the money provided by the newspaper ran out, after which we started paying for our own drinks, which we were more than happy to do.

But that was years ago. For about a decade now, our “holiday” (not “Christmas”) party has been a potluck carry-in. This year, I’m bringing a vegetable dish and my famous quiche.

Bah, humbug. I mean, Happy Holidays!

Seems like old times

November 6, 2008

This is a bad year in a bad decade for newspapers, but at least we’re having a good week:

It was a good day to be in the newspaper business. The historic November 5 editions proclaiming Barack Obama‘s White House victory flew off the newsstands and major newspapers struggled to keep up with the demand for copies.

Those who didn’t rise early enough or who lacked the foresight to keep up their subscriptions to the print editions could find them online, but at a steep price. By early on Wednesday evening, nearly 800 sellers offered copies for sale on eBay.

That pesky paper that gets yellow and accumulates in stacks in corners and clutters up the recycling bins also provides artifacts. Going back in 20 years to scope out the pdf-file copy of the Page 1 headline about Obama’s victory isn’t as likely to stir the memories as much as looking at a framed copy of the actual page. The digital world is all about the future . . . move it along, move it along, too much to see here, gotta make room, more, more, more, faster, faster. Sorry about that, past. No time for you. That would mean slowing down.

Deep sixed

November 5, 2008

Issue 6 was defeated in Ohio, which means no casino for them! Now, Buckeyes will have to keep coming here to foolishly throw away their hard-earned money. If you’ve been watching TV lately, you’ve seen the pro- and anti- Issue 6 ads that spilled over into our market, so this will come as no surprise:

Issue 6 was mostly a struggle between two large casino developers: Lakes Entertainment Inc., the Minnesota company that would have had an 80 percent stake in the casino, and Penn National Gaming Inc. of Pennsylvania, whose Argosy Casino in Indiana near Cincinnati would have lost business to the new casino.

Kinda funny, those ads, two big casino outfits spending millions of dollars to win the hearts and minds of Ohioans. If you’d offered to bet me 20 years ago that Indiana would be the state with wall-to-wall casinos and Ohio would be the state whose residents voted down gambling measures four times in a row, well, I’d have dared you go go double or nothing.

lol Dutch

October 31, 2008

If you grab a shot with your cell-phone camera of your cat doing something cute, you have to turn it into an lol-cat creation. I think it’s a state law. I snapped this one of Dutch relaxing in his favorite chair and giving me a stern look.

So long, paper

October 29, 2008

We had to beat down a rumor a couple of years ago that The News-Sentinel had “a plan” to give up the paper product and go online only. It didn’t make sense for any newspaper then, and it doesn’t make sense for most now — the online revenue stream isn’t there yet. But we’re probably getting to the point where it will make sense for some papers. Here’s the biggest name so far to go online only:

The Christian Science Monitor is turning off its press and going fully online. I heard about this at my conference on new business models for news last week and said it makes perfect sense. The Monitor is a powerful and respected brand that already serves an international audience. I hadn’t looked at it on paper in decades but I’ve read its stories online. Paper was a drag.

Actually, as a commenter points out, the Monitor isn’t going totally paperless. It’s goiing to have a weekly magazine-type product for analysis and use the Web for its daily coverage. This has seemd like a good model to me lately, and the Monitor is well-positioned to pull it off. It has an audience of opinion makers and is underwritten by a group not obsessed with ever-increasing profits.

I wouldn’t have said so as late as a couple of years ago, but I think the end of paper is near. There will be better-than-Kindle products for books, electronic photos are quickly making hard copies pointless, we will soon have a newsprint-like digital device that can download the latest editions of the daily press. We’re in a transition period right now that’s scary for those who have always made money from paper (including my employer, alas). But it’s exciting to watch unfold, too.

The 2.5-year itch

October 28, 2008

I love you madly! You are my life! Come here, you fool, and ravage me! OK. now I’m bored:

The honeymoon period is officially over two years, six months and 25 days into wedlock, according to new research.

This is the point in the average marriage where both partners take each other, and their relationship, completely for granted.

After the second wedding anniversary couples are far more likely to scatter socks and pants around the house, leave the toilet seat up, hog the remote control and go without make-up.

I can do all the above, any time I want, and nobody minds. It’s called divorce. Unfortunately, I started taking myself for granted in the first year.

Happy days!

October 24, 2008

Ah, the “anti-Christmas, let’s not make anybody feel left out” season is starting earlier every year, isn’t it?

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (AP) — A famed fireworks company is pulling out of a holiday boat parade because “Christmas” was dropped from the event’s name.

Fireworks by Grucci won’t lend its sparkle to Patchogue’s Nov. 23 parade — decorated yachts on the Patchogue River — because the organizers have renamed it the Patchogue Holiday Boat Parade. It was the Patchogue Christmas Boat Parade last year, when the Grucci company donated $5,000 worth of fireworks.

[. . .]

Organizers in the Long Island town said the parade has had several names over its roughly 15-year existence. The name was changed again this year after complaints that the use of “Christmas” seemed to make the parade less inclusive.

The Christmas-Is-Exclusionary season used to start right after the Native-Americans-Hate-Thanksgiving season, and here it is already this year, and we haven’t even celebrated the Halloween-Offends-Christians season yet.

It’s not time yet

October 24, 2008

I know you’re all anxiously awaiting my annual step-by-step explanation of what to do with your clocks for the end of daylight saving time. But, be patient, OK? I’m sure it just slipped your mind, but Congress extended  DST. That means “made it longer,” OK? DST doesn’t end this weekend. It will end the first Sunday in November. If I explain it now, you’ll just forget by then. Honestly, I don’t know why Mitch Daniels had to put us through this.

Ending with a boom

October 17, 2008

We baby boomers always knew we’d make a difference in the end:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Beyond the convention center filled with glistening hearses, beyond the rows of perfectly arranged caskets and bottles of embalming fluid, funeral directors await perhaps their greatest windfall ever: The death of the baby boom generation.

For thousands of professionals gathered here at the National Funeral Directors Association convention, the current economic slump does nothing to dampen longer-term hopes pinned to the projected rise of the U.S. death rate as the cohort born between 1946 and 1964 passes away.

Well, they always said we like a pig in the python’s belly. The digestion process nearly over.

Listen up, choir

October 17, 2008

The other News-Sentinel — the one in Knoxville, Tenn. — is conducting an online poll to see if its readers think the paper should endorse a presidential candidate. The results so far are pretty lopsided:

Yes, take a stand. 13% 40 votes
No, we don’t need your opinion. 86% 246 votes

Newspapers endorse candidates mostly because newspapers have always endorsed candidates. They started as political organs with a little bit of shipping news thrown in, and, in some ways, that’s what they still are. I doubt if very many editors still think their editorials actually change anybody’s mind. In Fort Wayne, readers have always had the luxury of reading the editorial page that most agreed with their own views — sort of like blogs before there were blogs. Now that there are blogs, with millions of people doing the equivalent of preaching-to-the-choir endorsements, it would be silly of us to finally get out of the game we started.

Arguing is fun. It used to get me really wide awake in the morning to read an editorial by Larry Hayes in The Journal Gazette and curse myself blue in the face before finishing my first cup of coffee. It still gets me through the day hoping that there are a few people out there getting apoplectic at the dinner table because of something I wrote.

Eat it all up while you can. In case in slipped your attention, next year is the one out of four in which there will be not a single election at the local, state or federal level. The only fun we’ll have is if the people we’ve already elected do something stoopid.

Oh, wait.

Cola of choice

October 16, 2008

I’d like to than ya’ll heauh in Hoosierland for being such an important part of the history of the soft drink I grew up with in Kentucky:

When Leo King Jr. began working for the Royal Crown Beverage Co. of Evansville, there were nine other soft-drink bottlers in the area.

The Royal Crown plant is the last of them left. King, who became the sole owner of the company in the mid 1970s, led it through many of those changes. For that work, Beverage World magazine is inducting him into its Soft Drink Hall of Fame.

King, now 76, came to Royal Crown 1958. According to his estimates, the United States then contained about 9,000 bottling plants. They had the job of packaging the soft drinks sold at local restaurants and grocery stores.

Such boldness and balance, and the bouquet! An RC, as we called it, is the only soft drink allowed to accompany a Moon Pie — I think it might be a law in several states. And it’s much better than Pepsi or Coke for the Appalachian snack of choice — a bag of peanuts swimming in a bottle of pop. Don’t knock it till you try it.

Whaddya think?

October 16, 2008

I notice so many of the blogs are conducting polls nowadays, and I see that my blogging service has just enabled me do do them, too. You apparently can’t be taken seriously in today’s highly interactive culture unless you regularly take the pulse of your readers. How’s your pulse? Take this poll, please!  


October 15, 2008

This is just sad:

THE art of cooking a humble jacket potato is lost on almost half of the under-30s, a survey has found.

A similar number have no idea how to prepare roast potatoes to accompany a Sunday joint or simple dishes such as shepherd’s pie, fishcakes, and leek and potato soup.

The potato is a nearly perfect food because it can be fixed so many different ways to accompany so many different kinds of food. These kids today, I tell ya.

And there’ll never be an end to new ways to cook them. Recently discovered: Prepare them as big, fat steak fries, sprinkle liberally with Old Bay seasoning and serve with a cucumber sauce. We found this at a local restaurant that called them Scoobies, and it’s a pretty easy recipe to duplicate.

No such thing as too fat

October 14, 2008

What do you think of this for a meal? T-bone steak with A-1 sauce, onion rings, french fries, four eggs over easy, toast with butter, hash browns, a pint of rocky road ice cream, a Mountain Dew soft drink and bear claw pastries.

Whew. That’s the last meal of Richard Cooey, the Ohio death row inmate who argued that he is too obese to be executed “humanely” by lethal injection. The bad news for him:

A 5-foot-7, 267-pound double murderer who says he’s too fat to be executed humanely passed a pre-execution exam Tuesday and was cleared to receive a lethal injection as the U.S. Supreme Court denied his latest appeal.

Richard Cooey, 41, was given a detailed examination, and prison staff found a viable vein in both arms to deliver the deadly chemicals, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Andrea Carson said.

Cooey was convicted of a double kidnapping, beating, sexual assault and murder. Fry in hell, fat boy. You ought to be medium rare in a couple of centuries.

Last year’s model

October 13, 2008

This Editor & Publisher article makes it sound like The Associated Press is going through a small rough patch. I think it’s bigger than that — technology is passing by the whole model AP uses:

 Since the Associated Press announced its controversial rate change last year, many newspapers have started considering other content options. And things are not likely to calm down any time soon.A handful of dailies — including several who admit their AP rates actually fell — have given notice to drop the service, editors in several states are forging content-sharing alliances, and Politico and PA SportsTicker are quickly positioning themselves to help replace the 160-year-old news cooperative in daily news pages.

But is the latest dispute over AP rates and services a real sign that its relationship with newspapers will be forever changed? Can a mid-sized or major daily really exist without the news cooperative? Or is this just a bluff?

“AP is going to lose newspapers, it is a question of how many,” says Editor Dean Miller of the Post Register in Idaho Falls, which several months ago gave its required two years’ notice that it plans to drop the news service. “My guess is most of their losses will be in medium and small markets.” 

Everything newspapers do these days is out there on the Web, and almost immediately. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve commented in this blog about an article I’ve seen online from another Indiana newspaper, then seen that same article show up in one of the local papers after it’s through all the AP selection and transmission processes, usually a couple of days later. That’s stagecoach-against-the train speed. At one time, it took a massive investment in infrastructure to move stories and photos across space, and the AP was willing to make the investment. Now, all it takes is a PC.

The AP is going to last only if it does a lot more original reporting. But there again, AP’s clients can replace that with sharing. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s already a lot of that going on. Catch how many times one of the local TV stations says, “As reported by our partner,” followed by one of numerous newspapers around the state.

Hail to the Chris

October 10, 2008

Aren’t the protests of Columbus Day (Sunday, Monday observed) getting a little old?

About 30 students and faculty gathered on Lincoln Field yesterday bearing signs reading “No Racist Holidays at Brown,” “Remember History Responsibly” and “Say No to Columbus Day at Brown” in a “speak-out” against the University’s recognition of Columbus Day this weekend, and to raise awareness in the community about the historical inaccuracies associated with the holiday.

Oh, well. I probably won’t have any big celebration this year. I don’t know any indigenous people I can infect, and there isn’t any wilderness around here to speak of that is worth spoiling. Guess I’ll just order a pizza.

Food stuff

October 10, 2008

This is a little disheartening, but in a country in which a major preisdential candidate declares health care a “right,” it’s certainly not surprising:

The $25 Challenge is over in Illinois, and we’re sure the participants are thrilled about that. They agreed to spend no more than $25 on food for a week — that’s about $3.50 a day — and blog about what they learned during the experience.

It was a real eye-opener for most. When you have so little money for food, you realize that “there is food all around you, all the time, but you can’t eat it,” wrote Frank Finnegan, who was planning yet another dinner of ham and beans. He added, “Forget nutrition. When shopping, the only thing that matters is price.”

[. . .]

The food budget for the challenge wasn’t selected randomly. The $25 a week is about what the average food stamp recipient is expected to survive on in Illinois. Many who took the challenge wrote eloquently about the deprivation they felt.

“Expected to survive on”? Since when? How quickly we go from government supplementing what the neediest can do for themselves to expecting that the government program is the be-all and end-all of existence.

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as food stamps. There were government commodities, and my family was eligible — wonderful things like powdered eggs and powdered milk and huge blocks of indigestible orange cheese. It never would have occurred to us that we were supposed to survive on that stuff and nothing else. Maybe we ought to go back to that, have people actually stand in line to get it. Maybe then it will occur to them that a back yard is the perfect location for a garden.

That one

October 9, 2008

It has been pointed out to me that when I say that I approve this message, some might infer that I don’t approve that one. Since that one is from someone else, it is obviously from someone not like me — i.e., white, older, Midwestern, etc. I certainly did not intend to be racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic or elitist or suggest in any way that other messages do not deserve to have a place in the debate.

It’s official

October 9, 2008

I’m Leo Morris, and I approved this message.

Finally, right on one

October 8, 2008

Yesterday, I wrote an editorial saying the mayor’s proposed budget didn’t go far enough in making spending cuts: “Wouldn’t deeper cuts in 2009 make it easier to make cuts in 2010?” Last night, the City Council had its first go around on the budget:

It was with that fact in mind that all the council members seemed to agree a flat budget simply was not good enough.

“We have to cut more than the mayor suggests,” councilman Tim Pape, D-5th District, said. “I think that’s obvious.”

What’s that you say? “Attaboy, Leo!”? Speak up — I can’t HEAR YOU.

Best and brightest

October 8, 2008

Howard Chapman has written guest columns for us for nearly 20 years. Judging only by his writing and several talks on the phone with him over the years, I’d judge him as a nice man with a wide-ranging curiosity. Now, he’s gone and done something spectacular:

When we say the best and brightest we mean that quite literally,” said William McKinney, IPFW vice chancellor for academic affairs, at the announcement about the new Chapman Scholars Program, which will begin in fall 2009.

Incoming freshmen who meet rigorous academic standards and show exceptional leadership and problem-solving skills will be eligible for a four-year, full-ride scholarship that includes tuition, fees, room, board and textbooks.

[. . .]

The program is named for donors Howard and Betsy Chapman, who set up the endowment.

“Hopefully, it’s going to go on forever … long after we’re gone,” said Howard Chapman.

The Chapmans have a long standing in Fort Wayne – Betsy, native-born and a 1974 IPFW graduate, and Howard, a city lawyer for more than 50 years – and wanted to give back to the campus that has shown so much growth over the years, they said. Over lunch with the chancellor, it was decided.

Speaking parochially, I’d probably like it more if the four full-ride scholarships a year went to the local best and brightest. But promoting excellence is such a novel idea these days that it seems churlish to quibble. Way to go, Howard.

No lights, no problem

October 8, 2008

The traffic signals were out at two busy intersections on my way to work this morning — Broadway and Jefferson and Broadway and Washington — and all the drivers just went into four-way-stop mode. It was very smooth and efficient, no panic or frustration. Why can’t we react that way all the time to unforeseen difficulties?