Category Archives: A blogger’s musings

And the deed is done, the last offspring hitched


We know that few things are more boring than looking at pictures of the wedding of folks you’ve never met.

Nonetheless, we can’t resist sharing the joy of the nuptials of the last of our four offspring, Samantha Marie Brenneman, to a high school friend, Kyle Brandon Troupe, the event officiated by a third high school pal, the same fellow who had brought them together on the suspicion that there was, indeed, something there.

The venue for the day was the Bellvue Club on the shores of Lake Merritt, and the day was glorious, as seen from the window of the gallery where festivities commenced:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, f/4, 4.3 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 100, 1/800 sec, f/4, 4.3 mm

Before the main event, Samantha paused for a quick snap by her doting father:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/250 sec, f/4.7, 10.3 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/250 sec, f/4.7, 10.3 mm

And bridal niece Sadie Rose, the flower girl, managed to sit still as her floral crown was affixed:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 21.8 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 21.8 mm

On to the main even and the exchange of vows, followed by the exchange of rings:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/5.4, 4.3 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/5.4, 4.3 mm

And the kiss of the newlyweds:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, f/3.6, 5.4 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 500, 1/60 sec, f/3.6, 5.4 mm

Followed by the reception and dance:

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/4.8, 11 mm

30 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/4.8, 11 mm

Off for the day; youngest daughter gets hitched


Here’s a couple of snaps from last night’s rehearsal dinner.

The bride-to-be, Samantha Marie Brenneman, hoists a glass:

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 800, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

And her elder sister’s prodigous progeny, Sadie Rose, won’t relinquish esnl‘s chapeau:

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

29 April 2016, Panasonic DMC-ZS19, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/3.3, 4.3 mm

SF Bay Area papers eliminating critical editors


Back when esnl got his start in the newspaper game, our stories were subjected to at least three levels of editing, sometimes more depending on the size of the newspaper.

The first level came from the supervising or assigning editor, usually a deputy city editor. The story then went to the city editor, then to the copy desk, where the story was checked for grammar, style, typos, and continuity problems by a copy editor. From there it went to the slot man, the final check in the editing process, who examined the story for content and placement.

If the story was sufficiently significant, the vetting might also include the managing editor and his boss [all the editors of that level were male at the papers where we worked], plus a lawyer if any legal issues were raised. Then, after the story was set in type, a proofreader gave it the final once-over for typos and dropped lines of type.

That’s why you rarely if ever saw misspelled words, misattributions, incorrect tiles, and so much more.

But with the waves of downsizings we’ve reported over the years, typos flourish, facts go astray, and stories have grown choppier — and so much more.

And now the Bay Area News Group [BANG], the company that owns almost all the newspapers in the San Francisco Bay area, is getting rid of the last vestiges of editorial review.

Here’s the memo staff members received today, via Romenesko:

From: James Robinson
Date: Apr 22, 2016 6:02 AM
Subject: Some changes to our editing and production processes
To: &BANG News All

We’re launching a series of changes to the assigning and copy editing process in an attempt to manage a planned loss of approximately 11 FTEs. We are choosing this course, as many papers have across the country, rather than cutting more deeply into the ranks of content producers or neglecting our digital needs.

The bottom line is that we will be eliminating a layer of valuable editing across most of the copy desk — what is known in desk parlance as the rim. The result:

  • Staff stories that go inside sections will not be copy-edited. The assigning editor will be the only read. (In sports, late stories that do not go through an assigning editor will continue to be read on the desk, once.) Stories for our East Bay weeklies will not be copy-edited.
  • Staff stories for section covers will receive one read on the desk rather than the current two.
  • Proofreading will be reduced. This is going to place a new level of responsibility on reporters and, especially, assigning editors. Many of the ways in which the desk bails us out — often without us noticing — will disappear. That will mean:
  • All assigning editors must run Tansa on stories before moving them to the desk, and all proper names will have to be cq’ed. Grammar mistakes that make it through an assigning editor are highly likely to appear in print.
  • Reporters and editors will need to be more familiar with AP and BANG style.
  • Budgetlines will need to include accurate deadlines and lengths. Desk folk who receive overly long stories will not have time to redo page designs; they will be instructed to cut from the end (on some occasions, early notice to the desk that a story is running long may avoid this fate). When deadlines are blown, the desk may need to grab a web version of the story and move on.

There’s lots more, after the jump. . .

Continue reading

Child concussions trouble parental relationships


A fascinating study leads to a troubling but logical conclusion, one that’s logical given that brain plasticity is at its post-natal peak in the years covered by researchers.

It’s a subject of personal interest, because we sustained just such an injury at age four or five when we leaned over the edge of a basement staircase and landed head-first on a concrete floor. That was back in the days when doctors made house calls, and we regained consciousness twenty minutes later lying in our own bed and a doctors opthalomoscope glaring in our right eye.

From the University of Montreal:

The incidence of concussion is particularly high in the preschool years – up to around 2% of children aged 0 to 5 years per year. A study by researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine mother-child research hospital (affiliated with the University of Montreal), recently published in the Journal of Neuropsychology, reveals the adverse effects of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) on the quality parent-child relationships.

“The young brain is particularly vulnerable to injury because the skull is still thin and malleable. In the months following the injury, one of the first visible signs of social difficulties in young children is a decline in their relationship with their parents,” said Miriam Beauchamp a researcher at Sainte-Justine, professor of psychology at the University of Montreal and senior author of the study.

Knowing that good parent-child relationships are synonymous with better social skills later in life, the researchers stress the importance for parents to monitor behaviour changes in their child in the weeks that follow the trauma and adjust accordingly during this period.

Given the relatively limited social and cognitive skills of preschoolers, a concussion at this age can slow the development of new abilities, for example, certain communication skills. “Very little data exists about the first signs of socialization problems in preschoolers after a concussion.  Parent–child relationships represent the center of young children’s social environments and are therefore ideal contexts for studying the potential effects of mTBI on children’s social functioning,” said Gabrielle Lalonde, BSc, a doctoral student and first author of the study.

The laboratory recruited a group of 130 children aged between 18 months and 60 months, divided into three categories: children with concussion, children with orthopedic injury (usually a fracture or sprain of the arm or leg) but no concussion, and a control group of non-injured children. The aim of the study was to assess the quality of parent-child interactions six months post-injury.

“We asked parents to fill out a questionnaire so they could evaluate their relationship with their child. At the same time, they participated in a filmed evaluation session in the laboratory in which they and their children took part in typical daily activities – such as free play and snack time – allowing the researchers to measure the quality of their communication, cooperation, and the emotional atmosphere,” said Miriam Beauchamp. “The quality of parent-child interactions following concussion was significantly reduced compared to non-injured children.”

There’s more after the jump. . . Continue reading

Dude, we’ve all be owned! Or Election 2016


Just some random Tuesday afternoon thoughts on a central theme. . .

The real brilliance of the political game as played in these neoliberalized United States has been the way the winners, the ones who’ve amassed all that wealth and power, have been able to control the messaging, target the optics.

The winners are those who have demonstrably benefited most from the direction the game of politics has evolved.

The United States went from a nation in which the rich paid a big part of their income back to the institution nominally representing the interests of those who had produced and consumed the products that had so enriched them. Taxes also bankrolled the infrastructure required by wealth producers to generate their riches efficiently.

For corporations, things have usually been just peachy in the United States.

Railroad corporations were bankrolled by Native Americans through the military seizure of their ancestral lands.

Interstate highways are bankrolled in part through fuel taxes paid disproportionately by private motorists, while commercial truckers pay fuel and mileage taxes amounting to only a fraction of the damage their trucks cause to the freeways.

The list is endless.

Corporations dodge taxes through offshoring operations and nominal headquarters, lobbyist-written tax law changes, and a host of other tweaks and outright robberies, while governments give them ever larger slices of that which was once owned by all in common.

Corporations have offloaded pension obligations onto the backs of their employees, cut benefits, robotized and virtualized jobs into oblivion, while busting unions and levying endless threats to leave altogether unless yet further concessions are made [we watched Bayer do that here in Berkeley, threatening to move a high tech plant unless the city came up with more giveaways]. Much of the East Bay shoreline is now one big Enterprise Zone, an orchard of nice, ripe giveaway plums nt allowed to Mom and Pop operations.

Then there was public schools, colleges, and universities, once largely financed by governments for the benefit of student citizens and now bankrolled increasingly by those very students, with escape-proof loans for which they be paying financial predators for decades to come.

Ah, yes, liberal Berkeley. . .

The discourse used locally is much the same as employed nationally, the implicit assertion of corporate over human rights, a trend about to be launched on steroids if and when the two major transoceanic trade agreements are activated.

What is billed as the “ownership society” is anything but.

Or, perhaps, it really means what it really says: Every aspect of our lives is owned by a corporation, a parasitic metaorganism into which we are assimilated.

We don’t owned most of the music we hear, and unlike sheet music, records, and CDs, we can’t give it away. We don’t truly own cars and appliances: They contain or embody corporate intellectual property which cannot be severed from ultimate ownership by the corporations.

Dude, did you get owned!

We no longer buy things. We acquire only condition rights.

Oh, sure, we can still but some things. Our next to last toaster was a wonderful thing, until it wasn’t. When it abruptly stopped work, out came the toolbox. But on turning the toaster over in search of screws to open the case, all was hermetically sealed plastic. Any effort to fix it would’ve destroyed it.

No wonder, then, that trade agreements were spearheaded by corporations with the most tenuous of rights, with the leading exemplar being a certain big-eared rodent.

While all this has been going on, the media distract with the ornamental rages of the American two party system, a spat between competing parties of the wealthy, one willing to make minor social concessions, the other unwilling.

Step right up ladies and gentlemen!

To distract us from the reality, politics itself has become a reality show, one in which the camera’s focus and the microphone’s range are very narrow.

Want to cut spending schools? Make the discourse all about race, rather than addressing the very real needs of our children.

Want to concentrate wealth on the guns and butter side of the equation, from the local streets to nations halfway across the globe? Then whip up racial, ethnic, and religions antagonisms.

An ailing construction industry? How about wall in Mexico, a metaphorically and literally monument construction job! And then there was the truly Hitlerian American embassy compound in Baghdad, a project even Albert Speer would’ve envied. Arms manufacturers hungry for more moolah?

And, hey, why not turn life itself into intellectual property, property you can keep alive only by purchasing our other products. Why not be Roundup Ready?

Because, if those Evangelical Christian Republicans are right, we all need to be Roundup Ready.

Got migraines? Then odds are you were abused


And not sexually or physically abused, but emotionally abused as a child.

From Newswise:

Children who are emotionally abused may be more likely to experience migraines as young adults, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, April 15 to 21, 2016. The link between migraine and abuse was stronger for emotional abuse than for physical or sexual abuse in the study.

“Emotional abuse showed the strongest link to increased risk of migraine,” said author Gretchen Tietjen, MD, from the University of Toledo in Ohio and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Childhood abuse can have long-lasting effects on health and well-being.”

In the study, emotional abuse was assessed by asking, “How often did a parent or other adult caregiver say things that really hurt your feelings or made you feel like you were not wanted or loved?”

The study included data from 14,484 people age 24 to 32. About 14 percent reported they had been diagnosed with migraines. The participants were asked whether they had experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse in childhood. Physical abuse was defined as being hit with a fist, kicked, or thrown down on the floor, into a wall, or down stairs. Sexual abuse included forced sexual touching or sexual relations. About 47 percent of the participants answered yes to having been emotionally abused, 18 percent physically abused and 5 percent sexually abused.

Of those diagnosed with migraines, 61 percent said they had been abused as a child. Of those who never had a migraine, 49 percent said they were abused. Those who were abused were 55 percent more likely to experience migraine than those who were never abused after accounting for age, income, race and sex.

Those who were emotionally abused were 52 percent more likely to have migraine than those who were not abused, after accounting for other types of abuse as well as age, income, race and sex. In contrast, those who were sexually or physically abused were not significantly more likely to have migraine than people who were not abused.

The relationship between emotional abuse and migraine remained when researchers adjusted the results to take into account depression and anxiety. In that analysis, people who were emotionally abused were 32 percent more likely to have migraine than people who were not abused.

Tietjen noted that the study shows an association between childhood emotional abuse, a very common occurrence, and migraine. It does not show cause and effect, although the finding that the likelihood of having migraines increases with increasing number of abuse types is suggestive of it.

“More research is needed to better understand this relationship between childhood abuse and migraine,” said Tietjen. “This is also something doctors may want to consider when they treat people with migraine.”

We were subjected to repeated emotional abuse as a child by a parent who had suffered similar abuse, and it was migraine headaches that finally kept us from serving in Vietnam. We were sent home from basic training after a hospitalization en route to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky. To fill our time before we were sent home, we volunteered to process discharges and got to see our own file, which was marked in big red hand-scrawled letters COMBAT INFANTRYMAN. Given that we were sadly out of shape and have a congenital inability to submit to mindless authority, that abuse may well have saved our life.

WordPress appears to be broken. . .


No images will upload, and other users are having the same problem, effectively blocking all the posts we’ve written so far today. The problem appears to be general across the WordPress platform. No word on how long they’ll take to fix it.

We have tried video yet, but will soon.