November 9th, 2006

Swan rampant

Dragon: 2 ... Saint George: 0

Back in September (the 22nd if you're curious) I did a couple of newspaper article posts dealing with the situation at the Los Angeles Times. The publisher and editor of the Times were standing up to TPTB (in this case the paper's Chicago-based owner The Tribune Co.). The fight was about significant job cuts that Tribune was insisting be made; the publisher, Jeffrey M. Johnson, and the editor, Dean Baquet, both opposed the cuts, saying that they would damange the paper. The common belief in the journalism world was that neither Johnson nor Baquet would survive. Well, as the subject line might have already told you, common wisdom was right. Johnson was replaced last month, and Baquet's last day at the paper is tomorrow. Right now Tribune Co. is saying that any job cuts at the Times will come from attrition, but I don't think anyone really believes that. The word on the street is that the cuts (probably primarily in the areas of national and foreign news coverage) are just being delayed. So, if you're an L.A. Times reader interested in something other than state and local news, a good paper is likely to become less good, and you'll have to find other sources for your news. If you don't care what's going on in other parts of the country, to say nothing of all those foreign places with the strange-sounding names, then I guess you shrug your shoulders and don't see what all the fuss is about, and you renew your subscription. Because a newspaper that cuts expenses and saves money without impacting those all-important sports and entertainment stories must be a well-run paper, right?
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Swan rampant

Charmed

I'm currently reading Mark Abley's Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages. It's a unique travelogue, because Abley's quest wasn't for museums or monuments or scenic beauty; instead, he went around the world searching out languages "tottering on the edge of extinction", as one reviewer put it. He tells the stories of the threatened languages and of the people who still speak them, or who are trying to bring them back from extinction. And along the way he shares the sort of information not likely to be found in any guidebook. I'm particularly charmed by something he wrote about the Isle of Man (noted for international banking and cats):

"At lunchtime the next day I drove down the coast to Port Erin, home of the Isle of Man Seal Sanctuary. Small though it is, the island has a profusion of animal welfare groups: a hedgehog hospital, a cat sanctuary, a pets' aid league, an SPCA, a horse and pony welfare agency, a Basking Shark Society ('unique among wildlife organisations the society is the only charity working solely with the basking shark'), even a Home of Rest for Old Horses."

I don't know about anyone else, but I find the idea of a hedgehog hospital utterly charming, like something Beatrix Potter might have invented. :-)
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