Category Archives: journalism

Oh. Oh no. Oh no no no no. Oh dear God no.

Last week I thought long and hard about writing a post on our former arch-nemesis Gregg Easterbrook — whom we have lambasted in this space for everything from self-righteous moralizing to being bad at science. I’ve continued to read Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback column throughout all of these episodes, because despite his flaws, he does offer a unique approach to sports and is quite often correct about things like the mendacity of Brett Favre and the fraidy-cat play calling of NFL coaches.

That was what I was going to say. Now I’m going to say something different.

gregg_easterbrookNow I’m going to say that Gregg Easterbrook has hatched, from deep inside the inky recesses of his brain pan, the single most stupidest idea for saving the newspaper industry in the history of the entire universe. If there were a contest in which everybody in America were asked to come up with the dumbest, most intellectually baffling, immediately recognizably moronic idea they could, and then those ideas were cast into a great heap so that they could be weighed as one unit, it is indisputable scientific fact that it would represent only a small fraction of Gregg Easterbrook’s proposition.

If you opened the door to a room with this idea inside of it, the smell alone would erase your entire brain.

Consider yourselves warned:

Can technology save newsprint? Here is the advance TMQ is hoping for: a print-cost breakthrough that allows you to print the newspaper yourself at home, eliminating delivery. Xerox recently rolled out a new generation of printers that use something called “solid ink” to cut the cost of color. Xerox’s product is intended for the office market, where most printing occurs, but perhaps is an indicator there will be a cost breakthrough in home printing.

“Huhhhh-GUH. Huuuhhhhhhhhhh-guh. HUUUUUHHHHHHHHHH-GUHHH.”

That’s the sound of my disbelief falling off its suspension.

There’s more:

Already home printers are themselves cheap, though the ink is expensive. If “solid ink” or some other improvement cuts the price, here’s what a future newspaper economy might look like: You subscribe, and each morning at whatever time you select, the newspaper transmits itself to your advanced printer, including, of course, the very latest news to that moment. Even with you paying for the ink and paper, that might cost less than $63 a month, since the newspaper subscription price — now basically a licensing fee — would go way down. You could set your printer to produce only the parts of the paper you actually read, reducing resource waste. A category of entry-level employment, newspaper delivery — once done by teens on bicycles, now often done by adults using cars — would be eliminated. But that’s a lot better than all newspaper-related jobs being eliminated!

If there were only some platform that would deliver me the news I need without forcing me to subscribe to a printed, delivered newspaper. Perhaps some way to make use of these computers and their blazing fast rates of information transfer. Oooooh, I’ve got it. Someone should establish a digital network of some sort in which news stories can be hosted and transmitted. Then we can feed that information directly into the brains of cockatoos — either through USB or ethernet ports. The cockatoos can then read us the news as we prepare to walk to work the wrong way around the entire Earth.

For all our grousing about what appears in the paper, right now American newspapers as a group are the very best they have ever been. Subscribe, or patronize the local newsbox. You will be sorry if the newspaper industry fades away. And don’t say, “I’ll just use the Internet for news.” The vast majority of the news presented on the Internet originates as a newspaper story.

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I’m sorry. My brain just flipped inside out for a second there. What were we talking about? The Internet?

Yep, Favre proved he can still play [TMQ]


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“I’m dying in this fucking country-ass fucked up town”

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Swedish cops don’t go commando

Behold the Volvo of justice

Most Americans probably aren’t aware of this, but even the horrible socialist hell-hole nation of Sweden has laws that govern its citizenry — such as a two-abortion minimum and a 92% tax on herring sandwiches. There is even a law declaring it illegal to break into a bank-run cash depot and take a bunch of money.

That last provision was willfully ignored by a group of hooligans this week, and now Swedish police are under fire for failing to stop the theft. Because they really should have been prepared for this:

Swedish police faced stinging criticism Thursday for failing to stop helicopter-borne gunmen from pulling off a Hollywood-style heist against a cash depot while blocking an air pursuit with a fake bomb.

Whoa. WHAT?

With cinematic flourish, the masked bandits broke into the building through the roof early Wednesday and set off explosions to get to the millions inside. They escaped by hoisting themselves and their haul back up on rope lines.

They then blocked any air pursuit by planting a fake bomb at a nearby police helipad. And now the Swedish media is all ubjurdertungling* over the cops’ failure to, I don’t know, catapult themselves at the heavily armed men in the stolen helicopter as they fled the scene:

Swedish police must “be able to use the equipment that has been acquired for large amounts,” the Dagens Nyheter daily wrote in an opinion piece. “Helicopters, cars, boats and other equipment must be kept in a way so that criminals cannot sabotage them.”

Bear in mind that this is the same Swedish police force that was once led on a half-mile low-speed chase by a drunk Bill Murray in a golf cart. I think the citizens of Stockholm are lucky these guys didn’t stampede each other running away from the building. “Um, I don’t feel so good, captain Jensen… I think I had some bad fiskeboller and I need to go home for the day… BYE!”

Swedish police criticized after helicopter heist []

* Not a real word — to my knowledge

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Take that, dike finger stickers!


The Dutch probably thought I had forgotten all about the incident in Rotterdam, in which my Hungarian manservant was accosted while loading my trunks onto the steamer ship by Hervils von van der Sluite — my rival on the Grand Council of the Great and Serious Men of Science.

The cowardly gingerbaby von van der Sluite had accused my Hungarian manservant of purloining a wheel of smoked Gouda from the council chambers — knowing full well that neither he nor I ever touch the stuff (we prefer Leyden, and in fact had concealed nearly two pounds of the stuff in my top hat case earlier in the trip).

Many council members expected me to retaliate swiftly and with great force, as is my wont. But instead I chose a more subtle approach, the fruits of which blossomed yesterday in this story:

The Dutch national museum said Thursday that one of its prized possessions, a rock supposedly brought back from the moon by U.S. astronauts, is just a piece of petrified wood.

Ahahahahhahahhahahaaa you Dutch pikers! You tulip-worshipping loafers! You dike finger stickers!!!

You were too busy clog dancing around your Delftware to notice my Hungarian manservant creeping into the Rijksmuseum with a lump of petrified wood in a velvet sack! Maybe you should spend more time guarding your moon rocks and less time painting flies on airport urinals, you orange-clad windmill humpers!

In conclusion, I’m awesome.

‘Moon rock’ in Dutch museum is just petrified wood []

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Our kids are 150% sissier than before

Pax Arcana

Our children are increasingly obese, the sad byproduct of cheap carbohydrates and a sedentary lifestyle. Returning physical education to budget-strapped public schools is one of key efforts in the drive to combat the problem.

But according to this article, that effort is fraught with issues — including a 150% increase in gym class injuries from 1997-2007:

boy_cryingThe study, based on hospital reports of phys ed injuries, was released Monday and appears in the September edition of Pediatrics. It suggests schools should renew their efforts to make gym class safer, said Cheryl Richardson of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education in Reston, Va.

Richardson noted some school districts don’t require teachers to be certified to teach phys ed, particularly at the elementary school level.

“Classroom teachers who aren’t trained in P.E. might not recognize situations that can cause injury,” Richardson said. Certified physical education teachers know where to position themselves, the amount of space children need around them for activities and proper warmup exercises.

Ordinarily this is where I make a snarky joke about the study or its findings or the article itself, but not today. Why? Because there once was a little blond boy who loved gym class more than anything. Then one day he was climbing the knotted rope when an errant kickball hit him in the head. He didn’t fall off the rope, but he was so scared he shit his gym shorts — which were wrapped so tight around his oversized legs that the shit tumbled out of them and fell all the way to the floor below.

The other children screamed and laughed, and the little blond boy with the shit-stained shorts clung to the rope crying and wishing he were somewhere — anywhere! — else. Then one of the other children threw a tennis ball at him and his hands slipped, causing him to slide back down the rope upside down, his knees crashing against the knots as gravity yanked him down to the floor — into the very pile of shit he had inadvertently deposited moments before.

For the rest of the year, the other children called him “Dookie” and rode their bikes past his house and threw tennis balls on his lawn and shouted insults at him.

Things got so bad for the little blond boy that the principal of the school had to hold an assembly where the traveling cast of Free to Be You and Me told the children it was mean to make fun of others. When one of the cast members asked the students if they’d ever been the butt of a joke, a student in the back shouted “NO BUT DOOKIE HAS A JOKE FOR A BUTT!!” The little blond boy sunk down in his seat and cried softly to himself for the rest of the hour.

Do you know who that little boy was?

Seriously — do you know? Because that shit was funny as hell and I’d love to post “Hey Dookie! WANT TO CLIMB SOME ROPES??!!!” on his Facebook page.

Study finds 150 percent rise in student injuries in gym class over 11 years [Newser]

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The Wall Street Journal is concerned about your cankles

Pax Arcana

canklesWhile I have criticized the newspaper industry and its often boneheaded business sense at length in this space, it is true that these organizations still provide the overwhelming majority of in-depth and important newsgathering. For example, did you know that some people have thick ankles? And that thick ankles are often derisively referred to as “cankles”? And that people are embarrassed by them?

Of course you did. You probably heard your first “cankles” reference in the late 90s. But hey, look — the Wall Street Journal just found out about it, too!

To get swimsuit-ready, Jennie Succio adopted a grueling workout regimen that included running uphill and doing dozens of lunges and squats. But she wasn’t going for a sculpted derrière or a chiseled abdomen.

Ms. Succio, 32 years old and the owner of a housecleaning business in Minnesota, wanted to slim down her chubby ankles.

No one will notice your dishpan hands if you have slim lower gams, cleaning lady.

But surely there’s more to the story than one sad 32 year old struggling to reengineer key components of her natural body composition. Clearly this portmaneau deserves its own trend story — like the riches heaped upon puns like “staycation” and “metrosexual”. Oh hey look:

The circumference of a woman’s ankle is about 11 inches, on average. That’s not much to obsess about. But enough Americans are concerned about fat ankles — or “cankles” — that gyms are coming up with new ways to tone them; plastic surgeons are pushing $4,000 to $6,000 liposuction procedures to slim them; and shoe companies are offering special models designed to minimize them.

If I were a cynical person, I’d say it appears that there are entire industries out there that profit from women’s insecurities. And that they actively increase the volume and strength of women’s insecurities by promoting “cures” for problems women didn’t know they had.

But I’m not cynical. That’s why I just founded The Pax Arcana Eyelid Stapling Program. Because let’s face it, ladies — no one likes a blinky woman.

For the Body-Conscious, It’s Now the Ankle That Rankles [WSJ]


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I am officially starting to enjoy this


Pax Arcana

My soft spot for the newspaper industry is well-known, as is my despair for the wont of real ideas for saving the most important news-gathering apparatus in existence today. (Less well-known is that my pheromones attract badgers. It’s a sexy but painful curse.)

The latest idea comes from James Rainey of the LA Times. Rainey is a smart guy with a dumb idea — newspapers should host more food festivals and shit like that to raise money. Because the business world is just like high school, and there’s no way they’ll shut down the drama club if we have, like, the best bake sale ever.

Then there’s Mediaite, a new Web site that ranks media personalities on a completely contrived power scale. It’s like fantasy football for the criminally douchey. Or as Will Leitch puts it:

The site is called Mediaite, and according to publisher Dan Abrams’ mission statement, it hopes to become “the must-read for anyone interested in media, the business of it and the personalities behind it.” At this point, it is perfectly acceptable for the rest of you to throw a shoe at your computer.

But still, it’s not the Raineys or Abrams of the world who are to blame for the mess in which the industry finds itself. That honor falls to the poop gobbling fucks who run the media companies — the idiot upperclass twits who fling millions in bonuses at executives who ran their papers into the ground and insist that the only way to save newspapers is to force the public to pay for an inferior product.

Let’s see if you can guess how these sacks full of farts and dead mice are spending their week in the face of the most dire crisis in the industry’s history. If you guessed that they’re recruiting innovators from Silicon Valley to build the news delivery platform of the future, then you’ve got egg all over your face, egg face.

While reporters at the New York Times are being told to save money by not texting or calling 411 on their company cell phones, the luminaries of the media universe took the private jets to Sun Valley for a week of hob-knobbing with other knobs. You are not invited, egg face:

For one week a year, the affluent resort town in central Idaho is transformed by Allen & Co, a boutique investment bank, into a playground of billionaires. They stroll along manicured pathways in its tranquil grounds and meditate by the duck ponds over the future of the media business and perhaps the next transformative merger.

Hopefully one of the ducks from the duck pond can point out the irony to these assholes of flying to Sun Valley for a weeklong golf and hooker escapade with their Princeton classmates while demanding massive layoffs and labor concessions at their various media properties.

Duck: Hi Mr. Media Honcho! You look depressed.

Media Honcho: I am. My companies are falling flat on their faces. If this continues, I might have to sell my private island! What will the boys at the club think?!

Duck: Maybe you shouldn’t have borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to build new printing presses when the future of journalism is clearly online.

Media Honcho: Who let this duck talk to me like this? You there! Yes, you! The Mexican-looking fellow. Shoot this duck.

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Australian political scandals are cute as koala bears

Pax Arcana

koalaYou can tell how important a country is by the type and size of scandal required to upset the sitting government.

Here in America, we just had a president who started a war by lying about what the enemy was doing and a vice president who drunkenly shot some dude in the muthafuckin’ face — and instead of throwing them both in Leavenworth we reelected them. Didn’t want to change horses in mid-stream, we told ourselves — even if the horse was walking with its head up its ass and shooting other horses in the face.

That’s what it’s like to live in the most powerful nation on earth. It takes a 10-mile stretch of highway just to slow us down, and another 20 before we can change direction.

Meanwhile, the Australian government is hanging by a thread because a car dealer who lent the Prime Minister a used SUV in 2007 also received money from a government program. Adorable!

In February, Mr Grant was one of several dealers seeking assistance from Ozcar, a government fund designed to help dealers needing credit to stock their showrooms.

Emails tabled at a Senate inquiry on Friday showed communications concerning Mr Grant’s request had been copied to Mr Swan’s ministerial advisers, as well as the Treasury secretary, Ken Henry. Two were sent to the Treasurer himself.

The Treasury official Godwin Grech, who is in charge of Ozcar, said Mr Grant was “not your average constituent”.

The Opposition claims this level of attention contravened Mr Swan’s statements to Parliament that Mr Grant received the same treatment as other dealers.

Reached for comment, wallaby pundit said the following:

“These blowies are cross as a frog in a sock, but all this earbashing is just furphy really. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go chuck a sickie and go hit the turps. I’m dry as a nun’s nasty today.”

Rudd swerves on car scandal [Sydney Morning Herald]


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All of a sudden I want a Ford Fiesta

Pax Arcana

British people are universally awesome — with their dour wit, pudgy faces, and powdered wigs. As this clip from BBC  show Top Gear clearly illustrates, they are especially awesome at reviewing cars.

Really, it’s worth watching the entire 11 minutes. Things don’t even get crazy until the beach landing.

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I am risking my life for this post

Pax Arcana

laptopFor nearly three years, I labored under the false notion that the most dangerous thing in my workplace was Father Scott’s beard — in which he stores fishing equipment and, if my instincts are correct, a small handful of month-old Pringles.

But as it turns out, the most dangerous thing in my workplace is this very machine upon which I type (Note — only because I can’t get my steampunk typewriter online yet).  According to Time magazine, computer-related injuries are worse than herpes and much less fun to contract:

Accidents like these happen more often than you think. According to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine — the first to tally acute computer-caused injuries like cuts and bruises — 9,300 Americans suffer such mishaps each year. Based on data from some 100 hospital emergency rooms across the country from 1994 to 2006, the study found that 78,703 people sustained injuries ranging from scrapes and bruises to contusions and torn muscles during the 13-year study period.

In part, the high rate of injury reflects the sheer increase in household computer ownership, which jumped 309% over the same period. But computer exposure and injuries hardly rose in lockstep: injuries far outpaced ownership, growing 732% from 1994 to 2006.

“I found that to be really astounding,” says study co-author Lara McKenzie, assistant professor of pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Injury Research and Policy. “We never see increases like that, and we look at consumer products all the time.”

It would be one thing if these reported injuries were bumps and bruises from tripping over power cords or dropping laptops on our feet, but the truth is much more, um, stabby?

In all age groups, the most frequently diagnosed injury was laceration, making up 39% of cases.

I’ve had a lot of computers in my life, and I’ve hated almost all of them (RIP THINKPAD T-40!! YOU STILL MY DAWG!!). But despite my best efforts to provoke them, I can honestly say I’ve never had a computer just jump up and cut me like that. It’s probably because they know I don’t play. I WILL DROWN YOU IN A BATHTUB, YOU PIECE OF SHIT.

0011000 1001010001011 000111111000000 0111001110 I’m sorry I don’t 011110 0111001110 know what’s happening to my screen 001110111101001 110100 000110 looks funny right now 0111011 00111 010011110 110101 1110000 110 1110011 011111 0001110 1110110


Another Computer Hazard: Dropping One on Your Foot [Time]

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