BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “News.”

I wonder if they had a cake

Monday, October 10th, 2022 Alive 18,794 days

The New York Times in full-disclosure mode

Congratulations to the New York Times for not having to print any corrections on Monday, October 10th.

That sounds bitchy, but itʼs not. Journalists donʼt take corrections lightly. Having issued a few, myself, I can tell you that it hurts a lot, and for a long time.

One difference between bloggers and journalists is that journalists let people know when they make mistakes, and print corrections. They donʼt just pop into WordPress and silently change things.

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Zzzz shell

Monday, September 26th, 2022 Alive 18,780 days

A turtle on a rock in the sun in the Japanese Garden at Hermann Park

One of the best features of the Sunday Morning program on CBS is the part at the end where we get to see some part of the natural world. No lasers. No music. No talking heads. Just birds, and plants, and bees, and animals doing what they're meant to do.

While CBS has slashed the time devoted to that segment each week from minutes down to mere seconds, other television stations like KHOU/Houston and Sky News, have started adding these segments.

As a former television producer, I know that in addition to be beautiful and memorable and giving people a reason to stop and stare, these segments with soft ending times are useful for padding out a short show, or sacrificing so that I can cram in some last-minute story.

With the infinite resources of the intarweb, there's no need to cut nautre for time. So here is my gift to you: A turtle being all turtle-y in Hermann Park. Watch as long as you like.

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God save the King

Friday, September 16th, 2022 Alive 18,770 days

A screenshot from Sky News of King Charles Ⅲ greeting well-wishers in Cardiff, Wales

40 brazillion people turned out to cheer King Charles Ⅲ during his brief visit to Wales today.

So much for the chattering anti-royalists who scream into their internet echo chamber that the monarchy is both widely and deeply despised in the land of the red dragon.

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Empty news

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

An empty newspaper rack at Adams and Dearborn in Chicago

It was just a decade ago that newspapers were fighting for space in Chicagoʼs downtown newspaper racks. Now, nobody cares.

The racks were installed by the second Mayor Daley as part of his efforts to clean up downtown, where busy street corners would sometimes have ten, 15, or even 20 newspaper boxes all chained together, spilling out into the street and blocking both pedestrians and traffic.

The new street furniture brought order, but also controversy. Small and marginal publication accused the city of playing favorites. There was always room for a Tribune drawer, or a Sun-Times drawer, or a Crainʼs Chicago Business drawer; but neighborhood, non-English, classified advertising, and pornography publications couldn't always get in.

Lawsuits were threatened, but I donʼt know if they ever went anywhere. Perhaps simply because right around the same time, people en masse decided to get their news from the internet for free, instead of paying for dead trees. It didn't help that both of the big newspapers doubled their prices (or more) as the internet ate their revenue.

Today, about the only place to get a newspaper in downtown Chicago is in a drug store. And even then, you might have to go to two or three different stores to find one, since so few are printed. There's no need, since work-from-home has made a 2022 weekday lunchtime on LaSalle Street feel like the same location at 6am on a Sunday in 2012.

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Only editions

Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 Alive 18,733 days

The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune

Anyone visiting Chicago can bring home a box of Fannie May, or a Drake Hotel flask. It takes a real professional tourist to hunt down a copy of both newspapers.

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Still more productive than an agile standup

Sunday, August 7th, 2022 Alive 18,730 days

Ycombinator error

Hacker News is broken. Silicon Valley productivity up 63%.

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Hi, Shern-Min!

Friday, March 4th, 2022 Alive 18,574 days

KHOU/Houstonʼs downtown studio at the George R. Brown Convention Center

Itʼs nice to see a TV station with a streetfront studio. They were in fashion in the 1990ʼs, and most large markets had at least one. They were a way to showcase the station in high-traffic areas, similar to the way big consumer brands like Starbucks, Hershey, and Nokia build flagship stores on busy tourist streets to serve as 3D interactive billboards.

The first one I saw was at KSDK/Saint Louis in 1994. Chicago is a walking town, so by the early 2000ʼs, several radio and television stations built their own. WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, WBBM-TV, and WGN radio all had them. WKQX radio had one in the Merchandise Mart, but since the Mart doesnʼt have much of a street-level presence, it faced inside, where all the office workers could see it. WLUP radio and WFLD television each did something similar at Michigan Plaza, but while the radio stationʼs version was well done, it was hard to find. The TV station never really pulled it off. Even Loyola Universityʼs WULW/Chicago, and its student TV station had a streetfront studio.

The last time I checked, both WLS-TV and WBBM-TV have let their former showcase spaces deteriorate, and theyʼre not much of a draw anymore. WGN radio was still using its space in Tribune Tower extensively, but no longer 24 hours a day. WGN had an interesting gimmick where a microphone was suspended outside of the studio, and the talk show hosts would occasionally engage members of the public.

A similar setup was featured in a Tony Hillerman book, outside of KNDN/Farmington. Itʼs possible that it was real, since the Hillerman books tend to be more fact than fiction.

When I was at WGN-TV we longed for a streetfront studio, like the big stations downtown. But we were way out in North Central, pretty much half-way out of town. When WGN radio opened its showcase studio, we were jealous, since the space next to WGNʼs studio was originally designed to be a TV studio, and itʼs where WGN-TV was located until it moved out of downtown in the 1960ʼs. We always thought that space should rightly be a TV studio again, especially with all of our competitors opening shiny new studios all over downtown.

That never happened, because the people who owned the TV station at the time thought the prime downtown location was better used as retail space, then a museum, then retail space, and then left empty.

The picture above is KHOU/Houstonʼs downtown streetfront studio, and the woman in front of it is anchor Shern-Min Chow. We worked together for about five years, and she was always nice to me, but I donʼt think sheʼd remember me, so I didnʼt say hi.

When I was at KHOU, we prided ourselves on the fact that we were the only TV station downtown. All the others were half-way out of town, and when important things happened, we were usually better positioned to get to the news before everyone else.

Since then, KHOU has moved even farther away from downtown than the other stations. Its main studio is in the Galleria Area, but at least this satellite studio gets daily use. The only TV station that does local news thatʼs farther away is KIAH/Houston, but its news product is a very faded shadow of what it was when I was there.

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I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022 Alive 18,564 days

Air11 follows trail riders making their way to Houston

Not only do people spend weeks riding their horses to Houston each year, the local TV news monitors their progress.

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All the news that ℔Ωℹ︎ℌℑ℁℀… NO CARRIER

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022 Alive 18,551 days

An error message on one of the Houston Chronicle's web sites

One of my newspapers didnʼt come today. So I tried to let the Houston Chronicle know it has a problem. Naturally, since the conglomerate that ate Houstonʼs paper of record doesnʼt have customer service people on the weekend, I have to fill out a report online. And, naturally, the web site doesnʼt work.

Even if I had to wait on hold for a while to speak to someone about it, a human being could solve the problem immediately. Instead, I have to remember to call the newspaperʼs customer service people during the week to get credit for the missed delivery.

Remember when computers were going to make our lives better?

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Thinking is hard

Thursday, November 11th, 2021 Alive 18,461 days

A column in todayʼs newspaper suggests, “Try a plant-based sweetener like Stevia” instead of sugar.

So what exactly to millennials think sugar is made from? Rocks? Oil? The dried, ground up bones of boomers?

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Dead tree edition

Monday, September 20th, 2021 Alive 18,409 days

An error message from The New York Times

If the largest newspaper in America canʼt keep its web site running, what chance do I have?

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Upper railing

Sunday, September 19th, 2021 Alive 18,408 days

An error message from The New York Times

The New York Times has “lost” this web page. I guess thatʼs not surprising, since it also lost my newspaper today.

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Donʼt believe the hype

Monday, July 26th, 2021 Alive 18,353 days

Since every single story on NBC Nightly News is labeled “Breaking News,” I wonder what the producers will use when thereʼs actual breaking news to report.

“Breaking News! We Really Mean It This Time!” Or maybe “ZOMG!!!WTF!!BBQ!!!11!1!” might work.

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Sheʼs got legs

Monday, July 12th, 2021 Alive 18,339 days

The front page of the Navajo Times

If your beauty pageant has replaced the swimsuit competition with an animal slaughtering competition, you may live on the Big Rez.

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Loaded question

Sunday, June 27th, 2021 Alive 18,324 days

The New York Times app, with its pants around its ankles

The New York Times app sure knows how to load ads.

Too bad it doesnʼt know how to load the news that I pay for.

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♫ The dream of the 90ʼs has died in Portland… Portland… Portland ♫

Sunday, June 20th, 2021 Alive 18,317 days

An ad for Portlant, Oregon

If your city has to take out an ad in the New York Times letting people know everything is not as bad as it seems, you know you have a P.R. problem.

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Inky fingers

Sunday, May 23rd, 2021 Alive 18,289 days

Mise en place

Coffee and seven newspapers (thereʼs a Chicago Catholic under there somewhere). My day is set.

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Nerd rage

Sunday, April 25th, 2021 Alive 18,261 days

Hacker News: “This device is so poorly secured, anyone can hack it. This is an outrage!”

Also Hacker news: “This device so secure, I canʼt hack it. This is an outrage!”

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Canʼt argue with that

Sunday, April 4th, 2021 Alive 18,240 days

An explanation of the COVID-19 risk levels in New Mexico

Risk tiers that include the color turquoise are likely to be nonsensical to anyone who does not live in New Mexico.

Albuquerque Journal, March 27, 2021
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Friday, February 5th, 2021 Alive 18,182 days

Hacker News: “Apple wonʼt let me install the software I want!"

Also Hacker News: “Homebrew is awesome!”

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A ton of Newtons

Friday, January 29th, 2021 Alive 18,175 days

The New York Times web site incorrectly locating Newton, New Jersey in Kansas

This is what happens when your mapping database doesnʼt have coordinates for a town. It puts the town in Kansas.

In this case, the New York Times map jammed Newton, New Jersey in the middle of Kansas. It probably thinks other towns are there, too.

Never trust any data. Always check for NULL and improbable values.

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Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 Alive 18,165 days

A screenshot from the WTTW web page

Being unemployed leaves you with no money. Not having money means youʼre poor. That was easy.

This feels like a think piece put together by a Northwestern grad whoʼs never been poor.

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Funny, funnier, funniest

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021 Alive 18,165 days

The funnies section of the Albuquerque Journal

My Sunday paper came with three comics sections. I shoulda bought a lottery ticket, too!

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It all makes sense now

Sunday, January 3rd, 2021 Alive 18,149 days

A slightly mangled New York Times

Due to a printing error, someone somewhere is missing the first two letters from page 30 of todayʼs New York Times.

Theyʼre “F” and “o.”

Youʼre welcome.

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Minimally moist

Friday, December 18th, 2020 Alive 18,133 days

The front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal December 18, 2020

You know you live in the desert when the newspaperʼs big front page ballyhoo is over 0.04 inches of rain.

After 240 days, youʼd think we could do better than 0.04 inches, though.

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It is The Onion

Monday, November 30th, 2020 Alive 18,115 days

A screenshot from The Onion's web site

Well, hereʼs a new DGPR fail. Not only can I not decline to be tracked by The Onion, I canʼt even accept to be tracked because the Accept button doesnʼt work.

Maybe this is some kind of subtle humor.

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Wallpaper television

Monday, November 23rd, 2020 Alive 18,108 days

I watched NewsNation today. For a Tribune product itʼs not bad. Itʼs not good, but itʼs not people screaming at me for an hour telling me that Iʼm going to die. Itʼs like a newscast on mood stabilizers. Remember the early days of CNN when you would just turn it on and let it run in the background and kind of dip in and out? Thatʼs what NewsNation is for.

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Navajo times

Saturday, November 21st, 2020 Alive 18,106 days

A clipping from the Navajo Times

Saw this graphic in the Navajo Times today. It says not to make a COVID mask out of leather or coffee filters. I had no idea this was a problem.

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Saturday, November 7th, 2020 Alive 18,092 days

I saw the paperboy for the first time today. She had lots and lots of newspapers in her arms for my building, so I don’t feel like weird old Uncle Bert for getting newspapers anymore.

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Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020 Alive 18,088 days

The cable is out. Itʼs not like thereʼs a presidential election going on and I might want to watch CNN or anything.

Good thing I also have an over-the-air antenna. CBS News, here I come.

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What could possibly go wrong?

Sunday, September 20th, 2020 Alive 18,044 days

The Entertainment section of the September 20, 2020 Las Vegas Review-Journal

According to todayʼs paper, you can now crush a car, operate heavy machinery, shoot a machine gun, detonate explosives, drive a monster truck, launch flaming arrows, blast flame-throwers, and drink yourself into a stupor all in one place. Because doing all those separately was too much work.

Oh, and thereʼs a brothel on the other side of the ridge.

I can only assume this started with someone from Texas saying, “Yʼknow, thereʼs just too many rules around here.”

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Adore me!

Sunday, August 16th, 2020 Alive 18,009 days

Annie telling me that itʼs time to stop reading ther newspaper and time to start scratching her belly

Sunday, interrupted.

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Ewe bet

Friday, August 7th, 2020 Alive 18,000 days

An ad in the Navajo Times offering sheep for lease

When Darcie was reading the Navajo newspaper, she mentioned there was a sale on new, low-mileage Rams.

This isnʼt what I expected.

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A one cow town

Friday, July 10th, 2020 Alive 17,972 days

A “Keep one cow apart” sign in the Nevada state capitol

Remember how the Navajo were advised to stay two sheep apart from one another? I guess the Nevada legislature is made up of cowboys, because this sign in the capitol was in todayʼs paper.

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Baaaaack off

Friday, July 3rd, 2020 Alive 17,965 days

An announcement in the Navajo Times advising people to stay two sheep away from each other

Today I learned that a sheep is three feet long.

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Thief of parts

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 Alive 17,964 days

A WB39 pencil

I needed a pencil eraser to clean some electronics today, and I found this.

I donʼt remember being given any WB39 News pencils to bring home from the newsroom, so I must have borrowed this one. Iʼll totally bring it back the next time Iʼm in Houston.

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It takes more than texting

Sunday, June 7th, 2020 Alive 17,939 days

Today I learned that one of my friends applied for food stamps because of the COVID situation. I found out about it from an interview in the New York Times. I think that makes me pretty much the definition of a bad friend.

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Paper work

Saturday, February 1st, 2020 Alive 17,812 days

Henri reading the New York Times on a Nook. I prefer the dead tree edition.

When I was in J school, we were issued little pamphlets from the New York Times titled How To Read The New York Times. It was very useful, and one of those things that would be useful for people to read today since so many are burdened by information overload.

The instructions went something like this:

  1. Throw away all of the sections you donʼt like.
  2. Put the remaining sections in order of priority.
  3. Look at the headlines on each page. If a headline doesnʼt interest you, move on.
  4. If a headline interests you, read the subhead or the photo caption. If youʼre not interested or arenʼt learning anything new, move on.
  5. Read the first three paragraphs of the article. Move on when you stop learning something new.

This method is still remarkably effective, especially for plowing through a fat pile of Sunday papers.

The only Times sections I toss are the Book Review and the Magazine. I like books, but I want to form my own opinion about them. And the Magazine is just hard to read. The paper is too glossy and the print too small for the stylish lighting in my abode.

Counterintuitively, I find the Sports section quite compelling. Even though I have near zero interest in sportsball, thereʼs always an article in there that is intellectually intriguing. A couple of weeks ago there was a good piece about how “home field advantage” is a thing of the past because teams are so pampered in their palatial practice facilities that even when they play in their home stadium, theyʼre playing on unfamiliar territory. Fun stuff.

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Sunday, September 1st, 2019 Alive 17,659 days

Iʼm sitting in a Starbucks reading the New York Times.

Three children politely stare at me as they await their drinks, while their mother whispers privately to them.

On the way out, the mother quietly explains to me: theyʼve never seen a newspaper.

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Sunday, August 25th, 2019 Alive 17,652 days

At a time when America needs journalism more than ever, there's a sign up at Starbucks stating that today is the last day that it will sell newspapers.

I wish I had a coffee shop alternative, but such is life in an American suburb.

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Suck it, Egon

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019 Alive 17,589 days

There are twelve people at Starbucks this morning.

Three are reading the New York Times. Two are reading the local paper. One is reading a book. The rest are lost in their phones.

I guess journalismʼs not dead after all.

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Monday, September 24th, 2018 Alive 17,317 days

A six-pixel-tall font in Apple News

I love Apple News on the iPhone, but on macOS, it uses a six-pixel-tall font. And most headlines are just ten pixels tall, with no way to scale them.

Itʼs unusable by anyone past puberty.

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You want fries with that?

Thursday, July 12th, 2018 Alive 17,243 days

A screenshot of an Apple News headline

You can tell it’s fake news because there’s no way a hundred Americans have ordered a salad at McDonald’s.

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Thursday, July 12th, 2018 Alive 17,243 days

A screenshot of a headline on Apple News that doesnʼt quite make sense

Man, I hate when zombies show up in court. Stinks up the joint.

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Wednesday, July 4th, 2018 Alive 17,235 days

A headline from Apple News

I can go two ways with this:

  1. The chairman is apologizing because Asiana flights lack suicide?
  2. The chairman of Asiana Airlines is apologizing for providing the same level of service that American airlines provide.
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