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My new column: a Give & Take with readers

I have begun writing a new column for the Register-Guard called Give & Take.

The idea is borrowed from Sound Off, the weekly column I helped launch at The Bakersfield Californian.

The goal of Give & Take is to have a conversation with readers about our mission, and to give them a place to ask questions about our content and coverage, and to share compliments, criticisms or suggestions about what we do. Over time I hope to the column becomes less about the nuts and bolts of producing and delivering news and more about the steps local media companies need to take to do a better job of connecting their communities at a time when trust in media is dissapating quickly. 

My first column generated a flood of responses, so I've been posting a few answers online-first or online-only to keep things moving while I settle into a regular publishing schedule. 

We're parking all the columns, long and short, in a Give & Take section at

Let me know what you think. 


New job, new place, new priorities

I have taken a new job as Publisher and CEO of RG Media Company in Eugene, Ore. Here's detail on my hiring and here's my first article as publisher of the Register-Guard.

It's a great opportunity in a new place with a fantastic company.

What that means for you is even less time for me to post here. In actuality, given that my production has tumbled in recent years, it won't mean much at all. 

What stuff I do post moving forward in the near term will likely relate to my history of Marchbanks Speedway/Hanford Motor Speedway, whose stories continue to be the most popular section on this site. The project is something of a public service so I'll continue to make time for that as new information becomes available. 

So, check back here for updates on the Marchbanks/Hanford stuff, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for personal stuff. 




One of the things that energizes me is seeing examples of ingenuity within everyday life. 

I felt that way after seeing this Wall Street Journal video highlighting a relatively simple but brilliant way to cost-effectively expand mass transit along congested highways.


Think about that: Without building new highways, subways or elevated tracks, someone curious — and that's a key word — peered into thin air, imagined for a long time and ... shazam! ... envisioned a commuter train that moves above existing highways. Genius! You can bet that China, a nation with global aspirations and massive gridlock, will take this idea to fruition. 

Minutes later, I watched this Wall Street Journal video, which carried a similar theme: 

Again, we have an example of someone curious taking a long look at the status quo and giving it a sharp twist. This electromagnetic gun is fascinating in that it may revolutionize relatively ancient technology — while still using old technology! 

Both are examples of ingenuity and curiosity at its best. Bright minds often do their best work by daydreaming first, sorting through hundreds and thousands of crazy ideas, then winnowing down to the few that might be magic. And, if need be, repeating that process over and over. 

Sadly, too few of us take make the time for strategic daydreaming, thinking it's wasteful when there is money to be made now, numbers to hit now, others to please now. You could say we're no different than the Chinese commuters stuck in congestion. At some point — now, tomorrow or next year — an offramp to somewhere else may be the more rewarding path. 


Shiny Objects — No. 8

1. Deutschland83

Sundance TV is the place to see this terrific German-language series set in Cold War 1983. Jonas Nay is the charming star of this multi-layered spy story set in East and West Germany amid intense threat of nuclear war. There are all kinds of plot twists and switchbacks that will keep you guessing. The series — which Grantland’s Andy Greenwald has proclaimed the best TV series of the summer — is five episodes into an eight-episode run (at least for the first season).Underlying the storylines is the penetration of synthpop into pop culture at that time, and listeners my age will fondly remember some of those songs (including “99 Luftballons”). There’s a great scene where Nay’s character — who grew up insulated from progress in East Germany — discovers the joys of

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Shiny Objects — No. 7

Once again, long time between installments. All I can say is I have never been busier with family, work and school. But here are a few things that have caught my attention since our last visit -- and you shouldn’t be surprised that music is the constant that keeps me going in these long periods between posts.

1. “Play On: Power Pop Heroes, Vol. 1 and 2”

Author/musician Ken Sharp has released the first two installments of a planned three-volume history of power pop music. I’ve finished the 520-page Volume 1, which covers the mid-1960s to 1974 and am a third through the beastly 772-page Volume 2, which covers the golden age of power pop, from the mid-1970s through mid-1980s. For afficionados of power pop, this is heaven.

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