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hallo, everybody peeps! - The Villages — LiveJournal

hutch0
Date: 2009-07-31 21:42
Subject: hallo, everybody peeps!
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:calmcalm
Music:vaughan williams
That'll be me back, then. I see you haven't done much decorating while I was gone...
Gather ye round and pray charge yer glasses with yer favourite grog, and I'll tell ye a tale of pirate derring-do on the Spanish Main, I will, ahaarrgh.
Or maybe not.
Busy, busy time these past few weeks. Work (the real-life work that barely - just barely, and occasionally not even then - pays the bills) has been insane and surreal. The past couple of years of falling circulations has finally forced the company I work for to take a long, hard look at itself and decide that the only way to stop itself from getting in real trouble is to have a roots-and-branches restructuring, buy in busloads of outside consultants and human resources people, and drag itself, claw by withered claw, into the twenty-first century.
The company's actually in pretty good shape financially, but the papers, in common with pretty much every newspaper in the world, are not doing so well, and the company has set out to try and remedy this.
It's all been a bit of a culture-shock. Suddenly we have an HR department. Suddenly we're doing focus groups. Suddenly there are new and clear-cut demarcations between departments. Suddenly there's a culture of openness and collaboration which would have - and indeed has, I think - offended a number of the older members of staff, which is a shame because we could use their experience. Suddenly we're having brainstorming sessions refereed by outside consultants. It is, best beloved, all a bit weird but rather fun at the same time.
The upshot is everyone's in fear for their jobs and trying desperately to prove their worth to the company, which is why my workload keeps going up. As I said, busy, busy.

In addition, I made a rather rash promise to Jetse DeVries some time ago that I'd try and write a story for his anthology, Shine. Or, as it seems to be rendered, SHINE. Shine is an anthology of optimistic science fiction stories - yes, I can hear you laughing and I know you're way ahead of me here: hutch, write something optimistic?
Actually, in real life I don't deserve the Duke Of Gloom nickname. I'm quite a sunny soul, really. And I thought it would be a good exercise to actually try and write something that wasn't a complete downer from beginning to end. But I couldn't think of anything, so I sort of forgot about it.
Then one day a couple of months ago the mighty Marianne Plumridge posted something on her Facebook about taking pain meds. Except she had a Freudian Moment and typed `paint meds' instead, and I got the little lightbulb over my head all of a sudden.
So the result is `Dali's Clocks,' which I finished last night and sent off to Jetse, with just a couple of days until the deadline. I've been working rather desperately to get it finished, which has meant a lot of late nights after a lot of long days at the office, and it's actually not too shabby. It's only the second short story I've written this year, though, which is annoying me because I should be doing more than that.
Is it optimistic? Well, it ends with one of the lead characters in jail for thirty years on industrial espionage and terrorism charges and the genome of the entire human race rewritten, but compared to having Britain put to the sword by elves it's practically I Love Lucy. Now all we have to do is wait and see if Jetse likes it. The chances are slim, but you never know.
I got the advance reading copy of Under The Rose at the beginning of the week, and it's such a lovely book, it really is. And unexpectedly chunky. I knew it was quite a big book to start with, and we picked up some stories along the way, but I hadn't realised quite how substantial it would turn out to be. You could easily maim a small child with it, if it came down to you or him. And if the reaction to the cover is anything to go by, it's going to do rather well. Which will be a first for me.

In State Of The Cat news, as of Kuron's last blood test a week or so ago all his important numbers are now either in or just fractionally below the low-normal range, which we take to mean that the drugs have finally got some traction on his anaemia. His doctor - one of the doctors who advised us it might be kinder to have Kuron put to sleep - has pronounced himself very pleased with the results. So there you go.
One worry is that he's losing weight again. He's actually very bony now, and we're feeding him stuff with a syringe just to make sure he's eating something. We're continuing, as per doctors' instructions, to ramp down the steroids he was prescribed for the inflammatory bowel disease and which he's been on now for the best part of a year. He's down to half a tablet every other day, and next weekend we stop giving them to him altogether. The doctor up at Potters Bar wants to see him again and see if he can do something about the weight loss, but at the moment Kuron seems as bright as he was before he got sick - ie, he sleeps most of the day, then wanders about in the middle of the night howling for attention.
Obviously we're still not out of the woods yet, and he's never going to be well again - he'll always have to have the medications - but the signs are better.

So, how's with you?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-07-31 23:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd say that, of all the people in history, you're part of a generation which is in an ideal position to be an observer, and to record what you observe.
Back when I first became a journalist, the only avenues open for comment were to write to the newspapers or Points Of View or to write a scholarly book that half a dozen people might read. Now we can all observe and we can all comment on a global scale. I'm not sure whether they're here yet, but there are people in the villages who will probably comment on this conversation from New Jersey and the Appalachians and California, and I think that's an extraordinary thing. We can all be Pepys, if we want to, and I honestly think that, with a few bumpy years ahead of us, it has profound implications for freedom of speech. The internet has brought us a total democratisation of opinion, which is brilliant, although it means we have to allow the same courtesy to people whose views we might not necessarily share.
My education was, I'm afraid, nothing special. Probably no different from yours. I can give my point of view because I've been in the business for twenty-five years and I've been watching what's going on, but so can you now, and your point of view will be no less valid than mine because you'll have exactly the same information. As for `free' politics, that's a whole new can of worms, and I think in the future it's going to be difficult to disentangle politics from the media.
You're right that there will have to be a paradigm shift in the way the print media works, and I think we're seeing the early fringes of it. But I don't think it's going to come to fruition just yet. I expect a period of hunkering-down and retrenchment. But things will be different when it's over.
Pardon me for asking, but are you in the media yourself, by the way?

Edited at 2009-07-31 11:37 pm (UTC)
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Kat: Fountain Pen
User: artykat
Date: 2009-08-01 04:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Fountain Pen
I have greatly enjoyed reading this thread, and must note that I'm of the Appalachian region persuasion-- at least for the past 6 years. I was an English major in college and somehow fell into a Social Work tract. I, too, miss literature. I, too, am more into the fiction side rather than journalism.

Hutch, I agree -- the difference between us all is that you are ON FLEET STREET, and are experiencing this first hand. Much different than reading about it.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 15:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Nor do I; Thog's just an old grouch.
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RealThog: bogus science cover rough
User: realthog
Date: 2009-08-02 23:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bogus science cover rough

"Nor do I; Thog's just an old grouch."

You likewise, Hutch: convince me you're not just being waftily optimistic.
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RealThog: bogus science cover rough
User: realthog
Date: 2009-08-02 23:01 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:bogus science cover rough

"And I don't believe the world is quite as doomed as realthog believes it is."

Okay: provide some evidence/argument to back up that statement.

Tell me the good news on global warming and all the goverments that are really making a big concerted effort to counter it.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2009-08-03 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
No, I'm just judging from "it's the end of the world as we know it" predictions in history. They've always been wrong. The world and civilization hasn't ended. So I don't think it will end this time either. Certainly there will be change. I guess we'll adapt or die.

How is my stressing over it every day going to help? How does it help my family? How does it help my kids head into adulthood without feeling like they are doomed before they even start?

I suffer from chronic depression already. Believe me, a pessimistic attitude makes the illness exponentially worse.

I'm not arguing with you. Arguing makes my head hurt. I'm honestly answering your question.

*cue the R.E.M. song*
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 15:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's useful to remember that there are actually two Fleet Streets. One is the geographical one, and the other is a kind of generic name for the major British newspapers. In truth, quite a few of the `Fleet Street' papers never were on Fleet Street at all - The Mail and The Sun and their associated titles were down side-streets off Fleet Street, while the Mirror was up on Holborn, and The Guardian was even further away, up on Farringdon Road.
They're all now even further afield, scattered across London, but they're still described as `Fleet Street' papers. I have a suspicion it's the same as a bank being lumped in with `Wall Street,' even though it's not on Wall Street.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 15:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You and I were at university at roughly the same time - I graduated in '83, in American Studies (basically American literature, with a little law and politics thrown in) and then spent most of a year out of work before finding a job on the paper. As I said, `Fleet Street' was starting to disintegrate around the time I arrived, with new technology replacing `hot metal' and all the big papers moving to new premises.
I agree journalism is essential to human freedom, but I think we sometimes forget the converse of that - that journalism has to be used wisely. A lot of papers over here are forgetting that, in the name of `the public interest.'
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-08-01 10:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The internet has indeed allowed democratisation of opinion, although not total. But we have yet to evolve the mechanisms to allow the signal to stand out from the noise. Print newspapers are still modertaly useful, but we all know how biased they can be and they are not the only method.
What else we are doing about it I don't know. As I have said for a number of years now the internet allows the formation of hermetically sealed communities which in turn means that they need never see the cold light of reality. This can be seen in the global warming lies and the birthers.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-02 16:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, I think it may be total. There are blogs and sites out there espousing opinions which would never be allowed in the print or broadcast media in a million years.
And what to do with them is a problem. If you believe in free speech - as I most certainly do - you find yourself confronted with the problem of whether it should be completely free (and allowing people with extremely unpleasant views to air their theories and interests) or whether there should be limits (in which case speech is no longer free and we have to start having discussions on censorship.)
And if you decide to impose limits, you're faced with the problem of where to impose them. Once you've started imposing restrictions on who can post and what they can say, where do you stop?
I don't think we're doing anything about this, to be honest. The internet just appeared in our midst, and we're adapting ourselves to it. I think we're hoping that it will reflect our society, because that's something with rules and conventions that we're familiar with. And that might happen, but equally it might not and the internet of ten or twenty years hence might be a very different place than it is now.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-08-03 22:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I was thinking not total because not everyone has access or wants access to or posting rights on the internet.

As for opinions not allowed in the print media, things have been pretty tame the last few decades, but I am sure you are aware of the various things about pamphlets in history?

It seems easy to hope that it reflects our society, but I'm pessimistic about the implementation, because you'll either get a power crazed government doing it, or private companies and we know what problems they have.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-08-03 22:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am indeed aware of pampleteering, and I think there's a form of it going on on the internet. I agree not everyone has access to the internet, but it's not hard for them to get it if they want it; even if you aren't online at home it's fairly easy to get access via an internet cafe or a library.
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