Jason Kottke Hits 25 Years of Blogging

I can’t remember when I started reading Jason Kottke’s blog, but I find I’m often surprised how long I’ve been reading someone when I start to work it out. I’m guessing it’s been since the mid-2000s. The eponymous blog has always hit a sweet spot for me.

Several years ago, I was the subject of a post and it gave me insight into how much Jason’s site drives conversation on the web, as I followed along as the story was picked up by increasing prominent news outlets (Buzzfeed, Adweek, cnet, Forbes) and, eventually, the New York Times.

Congratulations on reaching 25 years, Jason.

Death of a Pig 15 Years Later

It was 15 years ago today I participated in a pig slaughter.

The bullet had to pierce the pig’s thick skull to stun it. The shot’s angle and position are everything. If you drew an X from each ear to the opposite eye, I was aiming for the small depression that lay in the middle.

Even at point-blank, getting in position to shoot a pig is a dance with an unwilling partner. I had the added trouble of working up the nerve to pull the trigger. You have to shoot the pig with it looking you in the eye.

After the pig murder, I produced a rather morbid multimedia package. In the past couple weeks, I took a little bit of time to put it back online, but, sadly it’s missing some parts, maybe forever, due to the death of a video-hosting service and Flash.

The story of the life, death and rebirth of a pig was about how we’d lost connection with our food and the skills that were once required to eat. Online news has gotten really sophisticated, but when I produced the story, a lot of news organizations were still trying to figure out how to shift from traditional media to the Internet (and many were scrambling as the financial crisis of 2008 was bludgeoning the news industry much as it is again today).

At the time I was writing about the loss of knowledge and skills, I was oddly unaware of how we were on the cusp of the lost of other knowledge and skills in the industry I was training for. So it goes.

It was designed for an internet that was early in the iPhone era, and we didn’t have great non-Flash solutions yet. The web design (Calibri?!) and technology (non-responsive?!) is somewhat antiquated. And in master-of-none form, it’s clear I’m neither a great photographer nor videographer. Nevertheless, the work, I think, holds up pretty well, and I’d invite you to explore The Death of a Pig: a Pig in Three Parts.

Under Iowa’s Theocratic Governor, No Wonder Young People Flee the State

A former Iowan writes to the Los Angeles Times:

The current governor, in my opinion, is a threat to social progress and basic academic freedom. She has supported banning books from school libraries, eliminating gun safety, banning almost all abortions, restricting LGBTQ rights and more.

Is it any wonder that young people leave Iowa after graduating from its public universities? Young people in Iowa and elsewhere are being deprived of obtaining an education in which controversial subjects are discussed. Democracy cannot flourish in such an environment.

If you are a person in your 20’s or 30’s, looking to start a career and, maybe eventually, a family, would you stick around a place that would make planning for those big decisions difficult at best? I sure as shit wouldn’t.

Who Can Ruin Their State the Best?

Emine Yücel in Talking Points Memo:

For some time now, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have been locked in a high-stakes competition, using anything and anyone as props — including vulnerable migrants and children — to score points with Trump supporters and collect MAGA clout at a national level.

Meanwhile, Red State Trailblazer Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds is heading down a similar path without the national fanfare. Attacks on transgender kids? Check. Abortion ban? Check. So-called parental rights? They went big and bold on “school choice” that will cost millions and continue to hammer away.

Reynolds’s is currently working to reorganize the entire state government, which looks to take control away from county officials and consolidate power in the governor’s office.

What’s Left for Gannett to Cut?

Zachary Oren Smith, formerly of the Iowa City Press-Citizen, reporting for Iowa Public Radio:

The nation’s largest chain of newspapers is shrinking much of its physical footprint in Iowa. IPR News confirmed Gannett Media will not renew its office leases for the Ames Tribune and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Leases expire in April.

The official word is this is part of a “flexible workplace model,” and no jobs are being cut (this time). Of course, there’s only a couple of reporters left, and most of the other functions (layout, editing, production) have been centralized out of town.

Legacy media hasn’t been robust for years, but the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area is left with The Gazette, KCRG, Iowa Public Radio and Little Village as critical sources of original reporting.

As Twitter Declines, 25 Tweets Highlighting What It Was

The New York Times:

On Wednesday, Twitter announced that users who pay extra will be able to send their thoughts into the world in tweets of up to 4,000 characters, instead of 280 or less. A few hours later, the site glitched. Users couldn’t tweet; they couldn’t DM; #TwitterDown began trending. All of it — the muddled sense of identity, the breakdown of basic function — confirmed the sense that Twitter, a site that has hosted the global conversation for almost two decades, had become a rickety shell of itself, that its best days were behind it and that it would never be as significant again.

Ate these are the 25 most important tweets? Some I’ve never seen before, but they are a good representation of all that Twitter was.

I’ve stopped using Twitter, which I used heavily and evangelized for since June 2007, and it’s still kind of amazing how quickly it stopped being the place that hosted the “global conversation”.

It’s not a great sign that more 10% of these tweets are Donald Trump, tho.

It’s Shut the Fuck Up Friday

Farhad Manjoo in The New York Times:

To people unfamiliar with the American criminal justice system, Baldwin’s decision sounds reasonable: Something terrible happened, and he wanted to help. But defense lawyers I talked to said Baldwin’s case should serve as a reminder that if you are involved in a serious incident, it’s best not to talk to the police unless you have an attorney present.

Manjoo is right, but it’s easier said than done to just shut the fuck up. Police rely on social engineering.

Manjoo cites an entertaining 48-minute video in which a law professor argues that nothing good can come from talking with cops no matter how innocent you are followed by a long-time-cop-turned-law-student telling you how he operated during interrogations which only confirms the need to shut the fuck up.

Getting Bad and Sloppy

Tom Barton and Izabel Zaluska reporting for The Gazette:

A rush is on in the Iowa Legislature to fix an oversight resulting from a previously passed property tax reform package that could mean potentially millions of dollars in lost revenue in the coming months for some Iowa cities.

The state legislature, controlled by the alleged party of small government, has filed and passed a lot of legislation that hurts cities and their ability to make local decisions. And a lot of that legislation is sloppy, which almost always leads to unintended consequences and then rushed “fixes”. Surgical strikes these are not; instead they are broad messaging bills that also have real-world impacts.

With cities and counties in the throes of setting their budgets to take effect July 1, the error by the state has thrown the process into disarray and may cause cities, counties and school boards to either lose millions of dollar they planned on — or raise tax rates more than they wanted.

It’s not like cities throw these things together at the last minute, or wait until the legislature is back in session. At this point, cities have been working on budgets for months. Budgets, as the story notes, are due in March but there are public hearing and publication deadlines that mean they need to be finalized in January and early February, so if cities are going to suddenly see millions of dollars less than they expected, that’s kind of a big deal.

Art of the Iowa Capitol as a house of horrors by Rhaomi via Dall-e