May 3rd, 2006

Uncle Duke

(no subject)

They done told me Garrison Keillor's "Writer's Almanac" is now available as a "podcast" or whatever you kids want to call it these days. (Christ, it's just a daily MP3 with a little RSS on the side. Let's not get too crazy here.)

I don't think I could listen to it that way. I just couldn't. Because it's no longer six years ago.

Six years ago, I had myself a bit of a commute, you see. I'd warm up the car on cold Sunderland winter mornings around 6:45 or so, crunching around the frozen mud, taking an ice scraper to all windows while the engine ran with the radio on and Bob Edwards' muffled voice mingled with the engine noise. I'd leave Sunderland (and a beautiful woman inside the apartment, still wrapped up in her blue bedsheets and blankets, all tangled red hair and drowsy smiles) about 15 minutes later. You knew the car was ready when you tapped the accelerator and the engine revved down. Oh, don't you run that engine cold, Mr. Spatch. That ol car's a cranky beast and a half as it is.

Off I'd go, 90 miles to DEC's Compaq's ginormous MRO facility, an NT 4.0 workstation named CYCLONE and an AlphaServer named frodo. Route 63 to Route 2 to I-495 to Marlboro. And always, somewhere in the swampy part near Orange or Erving, still on the two-lane state highway and in the middle of nothin but bare frozen saplings and low-lying brush, I'd hear the Writer's Almanac. By that time the windshield ice had melted slowly around the dashboard heater vents and the coffee mug in the cupholder. My fingers would finally thaw themselves out, too, and I could finally actually see out the side windows, just in time for Garrison Keillor and his soothing voice. He sounded better than even ol' mellifluous Edwards. Keillor would list a few obscure birthdays, read a few lines from Edna St. Vincent Millay or Robert W. Service, or maybe a translation of someone I'd never heard of from the 15th century -- and then sign off with "Be well, do good work, and keep in touch."

The job's gone. So's the woman, the apartment, and the car, even. Everything changes.

It would break my heart to discover that the Writer's Almanac hadn't.


It's common practice for news media to prepare breaking news writeups in advance, especially in the case of court verdicts or similar one-or-the-other type deals. They write up one for each outcome so it's ready to go as soon as the decision's known.

What's not so common is for the news media to get so excited about an impending headline that they decide to share both writeups in advance with the reading public. Consider, for example, this screenshot I took of's front page, mere minutes before the Zacarias Moussaoui sentence was read today. It's obviously the work of an overeager copy monkey:

Free Image Hosting at
Click to enlarge, eh -- don't seem to be resolving today

I guess that's what you call showing both sides of the issue.