Wednesday, August 28, 2013

If I start feeling sappy, I'll get a journal.

Lately, a huge chunk of my Facebook news feed has looked something like this:
I love the cute way [Manly] gets hiccups when he's been laughing too much.

My amazingly awesome wife surprised me AND my parents by driving up and fixing us dinner so I could stay here tonight and get a little more needed rest. Blessed to tears!

Love him #concertjunkies
Those are three real entries from acquaintances on Facebook... posted within the last two hours. There's more where that came from.

Remind me to get a journal specifically for sappy observations and scrapbooking couples pictures if and when I get a serious boyfriend/husband. Something tells me it will be more meaningful to have things like these written down for a significant-other to read now, and treasure later.*

Or maybe it's just me. But I can't imagine putting stuff like this up for the whole world to see. I'd rather share it with people that mean a lot to me. Family, close friends, you know -- but certainly not the whole 474 people I'm friends with on Facebook, most of them acquaintances of varying degrees.

*P.S. One of the best ideas I ever heard for a couples-relationship-building thing was to have a journal and write down one thing you love about the other person, or a reason you love the other person, each day -- and keep that up for years. I don't remember where I read about it, but it was a few months ago and stuck with me.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Also: I'm a regular columnist!

My editor told me today to GO FOR IT! I'm to write a weekly lighthearted column for our entertainment page. My first column runs Friday. And it's about peewee football. :D

On paywalls: A rant.

The paper I work for recently switched to a "paywall" on its website, which, in case you haven't followed all the hype about media, means you have to pay to access the articles after you've read a certain number per month. It's like the New York Times has instituted.

As you can imagine, there are plenty of people upset that the paper's now charging for something that it previously offered free.

There's even one commenter who's like, "I pay for internet! Why should I pay to read what's on it?" And somebody else compared the newspaper website to Netflix and said Netflix charges less, so ergo the paper is charging way too much.

Here, therefore, is my rant.

To get this out of the way: When you get Internet, you're paying for the conveyance of the information. You're not paying for any of the information itself. Complaining that you already pay for Internet is like complaining that you have to pay for something out of a catalog when you already have to be charged the shipping and handling fees.

Now for the important part. What you're reading on a local newspaper website is ORIGINAL CONTENT. It's like your favorite indie band's music that they beg you not to pirate. Or your favorite YouTube producer who kindly requests a small donation or support for a Kickstarter campaign or a lot of word-of-mouth support.

None of those content producers can give what they make for free. Online content, in particular, requires servers and content management systems and webmasters -- and that's not even counting the cost of producing the content that eventually makes it to the website. Newspapers are finally figuring out the costs of a Web presence, and learning (as everyone else has) that undervalued internet advertising revenues don't pay for a hill of beans.

You see, a newspaper is not like Netflix. It would be more like Netflix if all it did was shovel a lot of wire content onto the website -- and make you pay for it. Netflix is primarily a distributor of someone else's original content. (And don't forget, they realized a while back that they couldn't charge lowball prices, either.)

It's not like Wikipedia, where lots of people volunteer their time and effort and skills, and some compromise the site's factual integrity in the process.

It's more like the local carpenter that makes custom furnishings for sale, or the local produce farmer that sets up shop at the Saturday morning farmers market. It's people you'll see in line at the grocery store on Fridays or sit behind in church on Sundays. It's product that you'll be hard pressed to find elsewhere.

You want a city government that listens to the people and is held accountable for its actions?

You want a place to publish free, widely-seen notices about your fundraiser, your support group or your kid's school award?

You want somewhere to vent about the upcoming election or all the potholes down Main Street where hundreds, maybe thousands of people can read it?

Then suck it up and pay for the online content, please!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Compendium of Links #45

My editor got sick Friday, the very morning I emailed her my spec pieces for that column I mentioned, so I have not heard any response from her. I'll definitely post when I do! In the meantime, entertain and inform yourselves with the following random links...

Only Canada, China, North Korea and the U.S. allow abortion after viability for any reason.

40 maps that will help you make sense of the world... including one showing where 29,000 rubber duckies made landfall after falling off a cargo ship in the middle of the Pacific...

Which finally answers the question: How long would it take a rubber ducky to travel from the Hawaiian Islands to England?

Somebody went looking for a novel about women that's not about love, and thinks they're frustratingly rare. I'm not sure what the big deal is -- it's just as easy to learn from a guy's "going it alone" novel as it would be from a girl's. Unless, of course, you admit that guys and girls have fundamentally different ways of experiencing growing up! I wonder if that's what the author realized she was buying into?

When a Christian foundation interviewed some college atheists about why they left religion, a few things became clear: they had gone to youth group as kids, but wouldn't have anything to do with vague or superficial teachers; instead, they respected their solid Bible teachers. However, their decisions to embrace atheism were emotional.

And, a few lessons on evangelism from an unlikely convert -- namely, a former lesbian and lit prof who's now married to a pastor in a Reformed church denomination.

An Evangelical Outpost writer wrote not too long ago about how honestly Job went through his tragedy:
Job scandalized teenage me. He broke my nicely polished category of righteous suffering. Of course, that’s only because he was a better sufferer than I knew how to be. The teachers who told me that Job patiently, silently suffered did not understand the importance of questions in a broken world that begs for answers.

An interesting and perfectly plausible hypothesis about why church attendance has slumped: The same people come, just a little bit less often.

And the BEST web comic I've found this year: TheologyGrams! As in, theology + diagrams! Like so:

"Holy contributing to the delinquency of minors, Batman!"

Lastly, your video of the day: 50 common misquotations, presented by mental_floss and the inimitable Indy native, John Green!

Friday, August 23, 2013

I might land a column!

We have this page we do at the paper I work at that runs every Friday with a list of interesting things to do over the weekend, a movie review and some piece of outlandish entertainment news (like, Justin Bieber arrested again!). Along the side of this page runs a weekly column, something lighthearted or localized to set the tone for the weekend.

We've been a bit frustrated by this column for various reasons, so I asked my editor a couple of days ago if we could replace it. She asked, what with? And I may or may not have volunteered to write the weekly piece.

So, she said, write me a couple spec pieces -- that's journo lingo for "these are the pieces that will forever convince you of my fantastic writing ability" -- and we'll see.

I wrote the spec pieces tonight (or... this morning?). I present them to her tomorrow. I mean today. If she likes 'em, I'm on the hook for writing something rather amusing each week (kind of in the style of the Life on my Own posts here). Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

I should post more, shouldn't I?

My, my, my. I've been so neglectful of this poor little blog over the last few weeks. Not least because I went on vacation!

So today was my second day back at work after my long-awaited, thoroughly enjoyable six days off. It was surprisingly not that stressful (c'mon, I work at a newspaper, it should be really really stressful!). I did have The W's song "The Devil Is Bad" running through my head, of course, in mockery of the new content management system which we've nicknamed SkyDevil. It's the main source of our frustrations these days.

Nevertheless, the pages got done early tonight -- when does that ever happen?? -- so I came home and watched "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." I had seen it once about four years ago, during sophomore year of college I think, but never since. It was surprisingly endearing, and now I pretty much want to watch everything that Joss Whedon ever directed. (That would be Firefly, and the companion movie Serenity, and the new "Much Ado About Nothing" that just came out, and... oh you know.)

And now I should actually sleep...