West coast news outlets

October 23, 2006

troutgirl: Why is the SF Chronicle so mysteriously sucky?

nativecalifornian: i’ve always thought that they had a very difficult time finding their voice after the examiner was killed.

nativecalifornian: it was easy for them to play off the ‘afternoon paper’, be first on the story… now they’re the same monkeys and they have nothing to prove

troutgirl: OK, I have to say this

troutgirl: West coast news outlets generally spend WAAYYYYY more time on strange stuff like… animal stories and nature crap

nativecalifornian: yep. entertainment/weather/weird stuff

troutgirl: But the Chronicle seriously seems to be _nothing_ but

troutgirl: photos of baby tigers

troutgirl: stories about wildfires

troutgirl: recipes

troutgirl: and BALCO investigation

troutgirl: Oh, and they have those freaky op-eds like, “Johnny Taliban was just a nice Bay Area kid who wanted to learn about other cultures!”

nativecalifornian: 🙂

troutgirl: Chicago papers are like… who died, who got laid off, who’s getting indicted by the feds, horrific crimes

nativecalifornian: it’s because they’re cold-hardy people. they can take bad news

troutgirl: I seriously think 75% of the people here care more about pets than humans

The end of spelling

October 15, 2006

One of the coolest things about reading primary-language historical documents — especially in English — is how incredibly devil-may-care and yet expressive the spelling and grammar were. It’s one thing to be told that codified rules of spelling and punctuation are a relatively recent Victorian shibboleth; it’s another to realize that educated people of the 17th or even 18th centuries routinely used alternate spellings of things we don’t realize HAVE alternate spellings — like their own names.

Today’s newspaper brings evidence that perhaps we are as a culture reverting to this happy state of laissez-faire. I don’t even read the whole New York Times, but I couldn’t help noticing the phrases “reign in“, “husbands suicide”, “poured over“, even a missing apostrophe in the word “couldnt”. When the newspaper of record achieves this state of copyediting ignorance, I think we can all gleefully conclude that the Victorian struggle for spelling uniformity is over. Let a thousand alternate spellings bloom!

Transferable avarice

October 10, 2006

In my favorite of the Patrick O’Brian novels, there’s a scene where Stephen Maturin and the spymaster Sir Joseph Blaine are discussing a privateering action which made the fortune of Captain Jack Aubrey. Blaine has a line like this: “But a kind of vicarious cupidity and delight in gain makes me gross: forgive me, Maturin.”

I couldn’t help thinking of that all yesterday when the Google acquisition of YouTube was announced. Everyone I knew was IMing me to discuss the matter, and all the tech blogs were gaga with the news. It’s fascinating how strong an emotion, or set of emotions, can be aroused by the sight of people you actually know becoming unholy wealthy.