Monday, 26 April 2010

The Dinosaurs That Roam

It won't be on the nightly news tonight, or mentioned much in your newspaper tomorrow....but figures released today....by your friendly Audit Bureau of Circulations...show that the average weekday circulation fell 8.7 percent for the prior six months (as ended 31 March).

In case you were wondering...Sunday circulation fell as well (just over six percent).

The nifty thing is that all of the top twenty-five newspapers in America....showed losses...some more than others, of course.

There's an interesting aspect of this decline. Some folks think that we aren't seeing the full and in some cases bright part of the picture.

There is statistically almost 100 million adults who still happen to read a printed newspaper everyday in America. Even newspaper websites are still being hit at a high record.

So you sit there and try to imagine how exactly these guys will survive on...and you can't project out more than a year or two. Let's imagine in a hostile election year....say 2010, which we are in the midst of now...that some major paper decides to use every single bit of juice and dollar left in it...to help sell a message. What happens in January 2011 with that paper? Can it survive? Can they just terminate another fifteen percent of the paper and continue on...with fewer people reading?

I'm not sure about this anymore. Two years ago...I would have said yes. Today....with marginal profit....you'd have to pick what to print and what to dump. Then you start to irk regular readers who wanted the crime blotter, the regional news, and local sports analysis.

So there's a trend. In six months...let's stand and see how the trend continues along this line. You just might be watching a necessity for the government stand in and offer some financial help...to keep your Boston paper up and running...or your Nashville paper up and running, or your St Louis paper even.

A businessman would sooner or later come to a conclusion that he must be printing something that people disagree with...and find a way to change. But then, these aren't businessmen. In fact, it's hard to even describe them as journalists. You go and figure what they are.

How the System Works

If you took time to notice...some kindly Illinois law makers...yes, democrats...have spoken out and said its time to bring the National Guard into Chicago to "protect" the city. I was kinda laughing over this...basically, they are admitting that the cops are not doing enough and can't possible bring safety to the city. There weren't any comments by the police union...which kinda puzzled me. They typically wouldn't stand and let a statement like this go without a comment.

I believe this is tied to the idea of Arizona demanding more protection to go against the border (3,000 National Guardsmen requested).

If Arizona can make such a request, then Illinois can make a similar request. Heck, Bama could request 10,000 Bama guardsmen to protect dry counties against the terrible business of booze and drinking. California could even ask for 4,000 guardsmen to protect Beverly Hills and the rich elite folks.

It's like a chess game. The house will debate these requests and realize that they can't honor any of these...because they'd have to honor all of these. So the Illinois folks basically checkmated Arizona.

Any of these states could bring their own guardsmen onto the front lines...if they were willing to pay the bill...which none of them want a $10 million a month bill for 2,000-odd guardsmen. And that doesn't include fuel, bullets, or bottled water.

Mines Aren't Safe, Period

I sat and watched the coal miners memorial service. Naturally, I made some observations.

Over the past fifty years....the President of the United States had not been to a single funeral of a single miner. It was rather odd that this turned into a Presidential experience today.

Then came the strange event of VP Joe being at the same event. You never saw an event with Cheney and Bush together at an event ever....after 9-11. In the past four months...I can recall at least four events that both have shown up. I'm kinda wondering if they feel pretty frisky and unworried about an attack at one location by the Muslim dudes taking both of them out?

I came to the end...with cheering and I had this odd feeling...it wasn't much of a memorial service...at least to me. With all the political guys who showed up...it turned into something that would be best left with no description.

What happens next? I'm going out to make a bold prediction. There's going to be a report handed to the president of umpteen violations by this company for safety....and then another forty thousand violations by other coal companies throughout the US. Then the President is going to say that companies can't manage safety...so the government will need to run safety.

You naturally know what comes next.

A coal tax...and that filters into a government program that manages miner safety. The companies will then be left out of the deal of safety.

Sound like a joke? I would wish that...but to have all these political guys show up, and having a cheering episode like this...it's an odd thing.

My suggestion if they suggest such a safety tax on coal? Well...admit that airlines can't run their safety program and have an airline tax for safety.

Then admit that Pepsi trucks can't deliver safely....and have a government program that runs their safety program, based on a Pepsi tax to the public.

Then admit that dog catchers in America can't do their job safely...so we need a government program to run their safety program...with a tax involved.

Then admit that Hooters can't run safely....so we need a safety tax and a government program to run Hooters.

You can see where I'm going with this. The other idea I have....is to stop all mining....period. Admit nothing is safe....and just relocate them to some other location to hire out in a prison, or run a Six Flags operation. Face it, mines aren't safe, period. We knew that two hundred years ago....and nothing has changed.

My Trip

I spent the weekend in Bama....visiting the old homestead.

It was an interesting experience. I haven't been through a tornado watch in twenty years. Sure enough....at darkness filled the skies on Saturday afternoon....I stood outside and suddenly heard the siren come on in the local town (four miles away). I gazed at the cows...all facing one direction (it's hard to find eight cows that statistically would all point in one direction at one time). I obviously had a bad feeling...and it only got worse (the second siren from the next town over (another four miles) came on then.

So I went in the house where my folks and my brother were sitting and watching Channel Nineteen weather (they are the trusted source, more or less). They had the weather dude on and here was the track of the storm. It was twenty miles from us and it'd never come any closer. But we stuck to the TV watching this.....almost like a NASCAR event.

The weather dude went on for forty-five minutes....describing who should stay and who should run. Minute by minute analysis was handed out.

Thirty years ago...they'd basically say there was a storm and give some basic ideas about where. This was absolutely precise and you had dozens of statistics to pour over while watching.

I'm guessing everyone in the country was watching this....and getting some excitement out of this....although it wasn't going to ever touch down in our county.

Then it came to an end. It was like a climax of a NASCAR event....the thing was done and you could rest now.

In the old days...you ran to the storm cellar or the basement and just sat there hoping nothing happened. Things were vastly different now...with technology at our front door and in digital format.

I really don't care to repeat the experience again...it'd been years since the last experience and I just don't get the thrill like some folks.

The Arlington Funeral

Friday morning....I attended a military service at the Arlington grounds.

This was a Chief in our organization...I never met the guy. He'd been in the hospital since late last year, under cancer treatment....and died in early March. Strangely enough, the chapel and grounds at Arlington require a reservation...because of numerous WW II vets passing away and the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. So they had to wait until last week to run the memorial service.

As the chapel part ended....then came the horse carriage and the flag detail, with the drummer. Behind them....there stood the 250 of us....and we marched out onto the street, and then turned a corner to enter the grounds.

It was the first time for me to attend a service and actually see the grounds at Arlington.

It's an awkward thing....you gaze at the stones...with most having names and which war they fought in. There are dates, and some have medals written on the stone.

Onward we marched.

It was roughly a mile into this march that we turned the corner and reached our chief's final destination. There was a gun salute, and then they settled him into the ground.

I stood there for about five minutes....gazing at all grave stones...literally tens of thousands. It didn't bother me. But I reflected long and hard over their contribution. Some lived through battle and returned home, and died a decade or even fifty years later. Some died with less than a year of service. Some were lost onboard their vessel or sub, with just a stone there.

I walked out alone....back the opposite way than the rest of the guys. It was a mile or so....to reach the visitor center, and then head toward the Metro station. I was hot and thirsty by this point...and ended up stopping immediately as I entered the Pentagon to gulp down three big glasses of ice tea.

For those are coming to DC for a weekend....if you have to prioritize....put Arlington in the top three things to see. Even if you spend an entire afternoon there....it brings something to your heart and soul to walk around there.