Monday, September 21, 2009

Glenn Beck's Mormon Conversion

Glenn Beck, the weepy-eyed rabble rouser who has been out Limbaugh-ing Rush, converted to Mormonism in 1999. Mormonism, which now boasts at least as many members as all of Judaism (by most accounts, each have about 13 million worldwide), has been called the fastest growing religion in the world.

Then again, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, there are only about 4 million active members, and Seventh Day Adventists are growing faster. And, for every Glenn Beck, there's a Harry Reid, who once said, "I think it is much easier to be a good member of the Church and a Democrat than a good member of the Church and a Republican."

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The Future of Journalism

Fact #1: Journalism is hemorrhaging jobs. From an article in Editor & Publisher:
"Unity: Journalists of Color's 2009 Layoff Tracker Report shows an average 22% increase from month to month in journalism jobs lost from September 2008 through August 2009. The general economy lost jobs at an average monthly pace of about 8% during that time, according to Unity."
Fact #2: Even ice cream men make more than journalists. This former finance guy, Bill Sonner, made $350,000 as a trader at the New York Stock Exchange. Now he makes about double what a lot of low- to mid-level journalism jobs pay -- about $60,000 to $80,000, he says.

Fact #3: A first year cop for the NYPD will make more than I do as a writer:
"Under the agreement, the January 2009 Police Academy class will have a starting base salary of $40,361 and goes to $41,975 on August 1, 2009. When adding holiday pay, uniform allowance, and average night differential; a first-year Police Officer will have a total salary of $46,228 before overtime."
Fact #4: NYC Subway workers, even trash collectors, make more than I do. As of 2005, the year of the transit strike, the average subway cleaner made $40,000 a year. Wrote the New York Times, "According to the [MTA], the average subway or bus operator earns nearly $63,000 per year. The average subway conductor earns about $54,000. The average station agent earns about $51,000."

Fact #5: Freelance writers are not doing well either -- even experienced freelancers. This one is supplementing his income as a lifeguard at a Brooklyn public pool.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Quote of the Day: Ernie Anastos

As a New Yorker and a casual fan of Fox5 news, I found this apparent gaffe from last night's news particularly amusing. Ernie Anastos, one of the anchors, may have meant to tell weatherman Nick Gregory to "keep plucking that chicken," but it came out as "keep fucking that chicken." As the U.K.'s Telegraph noted (why are they covering American local news?), "Keep fucking that chicken" appears to have no widely-understood meaning." Either way, it's really weird.

Note the look on anchor Dari Alexander's face when he says it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slavoj Zizek on Vegetarians

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Quote of the Day: "President" Obama

"I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things."
How dare you, Mr. "President."

The full text of the speech is here.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Crop Art at the Minnesota state Fair

Crop Art became a competition category in the Agriculture/Horticulture Building at the Minnesota State Fair in 1965. For years, the late Lillian Colton (she died two years ago at 95) dominated the annual contest with her portraits of famous people, but there have been other great crop artists as well.

Alan Carpenter, who won best of show in 1999 with a triptych of Lawrence Welk, the Mitchell, South Dakota Corn Palace, and North Dakota accordion player Myron Floren showed an award-winning "Self Portrait with First Ladies" this year. This odd portrait depicts a monkey on Laura Bush's back and a parrot on Nancy Reagan's shoulder, with haloed Alan Carpenter in the center.

This Farah Fawcett piece by James Buhler shows great detail and contrast -- very careful choice of seeds for color gradations.

Likewise this official-looking portrait of President Obama.

Below is a 2004 interview with Lillian Colton, showing her making a crop art portrait.

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Minnesota's Biggest Pig

This sleeping boar is 1,310 pounds.


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