Monthly Archives: January 2009

Thursday Night Music

Susan Enan, “Bring On The Wonder.”


The Audacity of Nope

This was very good:

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So Here’s Somebody Who’s THE SEX


DAMN, baby.

Rush Limbaugh is a has-been hypocrite loser, who craves attention. His right-wing lunacy sounds like Mikhail Gorbachev, extolling the virtues of communism.Limbaugh actually was more lucid when he was a drug addict. If America ever did 1% of what he wanted us to do, then we’d all need pain killers.”

I mean, DAMN BABY.

first meeting him, one might not suspect Alan Grayson of being a
crusader against government-contractor fraud. Six feet four in his
socks, he likes to dress flamboyantly, on the theory that items such as
pink cowboy boots help retain a jury’s attention. He and his Filipino
wife, Lolita, chose their palm-fringed mansion in Orlando, Florida,
partly because the climate alleviates his chronic asthma, and partly
because they wanted their five children to have unlimited access to the
area’s many theme parks.

Grayson likes theme parks, too. Toward the end of two long days of
interviews, he insists we break to visit Universal Studios, because it
wouldn’t be right for me to leave his adopted city without having
sampled the rides. Later he sends me an e-mail earnestly inquiring
which one I liked best.

He can be forgiven a little frivolity. In his functional home-office
in Orlando, and at the Beltway headquarters of his law firm, Grayson
& Kubli, Grayson spends most of his days and many of his evenings
on a lonely legal campaign to redress colossal frauds against American
taxpayers by private contractors operating in Iraq. He calls it “the
crime of the century.”

His obvious adversaries are the contracting corporations
themselves—especially Halliburton, the giant oil-services conglomerate
where Vice President Dick Cheney spent the latter half of the 1990s as
C.E.O., and its former subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root, now known
simply as KBR. But he says his efforts to take on those organizations
have earned him another enemy: the United States Department of Justice.

Over the past 16 years, Grayson has litigated dozens of cases of
contractor fraud. In many of these, he has found the Justice Department
to be an ally in exposing wrongdoing. But in cases that involve the
Iraq war, the D.O.J. has taken extraordinary steps to stand in his way.
Behind its machinations, he believes, is a scandal of epic
proportions—one that may come to haunt the legacy of the Bush
administration long after it is gone.

I mean, DAMN.

“Wall Street is the only place in the world where
you can mug the taxpayers in plain view and then bill them for services
rendered,” said Grayson.

“I opposed the initial $700 Billion bailout because it did nothing for homeowners, employment, or the economy.There was no plan or strategy to help anyone but Wall Street banks.And sure enough, the Bush administration wasted most of the $350 billion it got its hands on,” he added.“Yesterday,
I voted for the TARP Reform and Accountability Act to ensure that as
much as $100 billion of remaining the money to help foreclosure
mitigation.I want to help people to keep their homes, and I want home values to go up, not down.”

“Today, I voted against releasing the rest of the money.But
if that money is going to be spent anyway, this legislation will direct
at least some of it to solving the real problems of real people.It
will require participating banks to disclose what they are doing with
the money, prevent bank bosses from enriching themselves at taxpayer
expense, and allow funds to go to smaller community financial
institutions.I hope that President Obama will recognize the public’s disgust over the bailouts for everyone but them.”

Hey there. I mean, hey baby. Um, hey.


Before You Get Your Super Bowl On, Get Your Super Roll On

Get your roll on, Chop.

So, Madison, you’re gonna watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. But what to do beforehand? And where to watch the game?

Don’t worry, Mad-town.I got your back.

Warm up for the Sunday action by watching some ass-kicking live! Come on down to the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center to watch the bad-ass women of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls skate their hearts out. And beat each other up. Hard hitting, but with fewer pads. And, if I may opine, better uniforms. Doors open at noon, the first bout starts at one. So you don’t even have to miss church.

After the bout, head on over to the High Noon Saloon to watch the game with your favorite derby stars. Oh, they’re all gonna be there. And, believe it or not, there will be booze.

Get your tickets here. If you wait to buy them at the gate, it’s two bucks more. So buy early and save.

See you there!

And I Thought Working at a Florist’s on Valentine’s Day Sucked

True high school story. I have never in my life had a worse day at any job, and I’ve had jobs where people threatened to fuck, sue and kill me. I don’t know what the owner was smoking asking me to start that day. I didn’t know how to do anything. I didn’t know what flowers were what, how the cash register worked, how the order system worked, what to say when I answered the (one, non-cordless, incredibly loud) phone. I had no idea who any of the florists were so even when I did answer
the phone I couldn’t identify who the call was for, I didn’t know the
delivery drivers’ routes or their names or the hours they worked.

Certainly no one was in a position to train me. When I asked questions people yelled. I couldn’t blame them. The customer sitch was like that scene in I Am Legend where the creatures keep throwing themselves on the glass. I didn’t understand why these baseball-capped douchebags were coming in at 9 p.m. freaking the fuck out because they’d forgotten it was Valentine’s — like, it’s kind of inescapable, read a calendar, Chipster — and we didn’t have any roses left for them. Men kept coming in demanding something, anything, buy me out of the doghouse somehow. The cherry on top of this shit sundae was the woman who came in hauling an arrangement sent by an apparent stalker and THREW IT AT US. I felt for her, but Jesus.

I wish I could say the job got better, but note to the job market newbies: A boss oblivious enough to hire a 16-year-old with no experience to start on Valentine’s Day without any training is not a boss that fosters an environment any more hospitable than the inside of Satan’s asshole. I lasted six months because I hated quitting anything, but I quit the shit out of that job. It was giving me an ulcer.

But working at a sex shop on Valentine’s Day is apparently SO MUCH WORSE.

“Should I be weirded out by the fact that there was a box of Girl Scout cookies in the lube shipment?”

Oldie but goodie via, in a roundabout way, Metaquotes.


What Pisses Us Off

Continuing on my theme of how much I would like to marry Alan Grayson in a ceremony of his choosing, Paddy sends along this vid:

For me the money moment (ha, I kill myself) is when Grayson asks who’s been lent money, how much, and what conditions were set on those loans. Kohn’s response is basically, “We ain’t gonna tell you, you can’t make us, you don’t have to know anyway, we’ll tell you how much we want to tell you, and you’ll lay back and like it and give us our change.” Grayson’s response, quite properly, is “… the fuck?”

And look. This isn’t about me having a better idea than Kohn on how to prop up the credit market. It is about being absolutely enraged at the unnecessary step to make this opaque. I get that people don’t want their competitors knowing how hard on the government teat they’re currently sucking. I get from a banker’s perspective why you wouldn’t want that information out there. You know what, though? TOUGH SHIT. It is not the government’s job to protect these people from each other or from themselves. It is the government’s job to make sure taxpayer dollars are being spent responsibly (I’ll go get a drink while you stop laughing) and if bankers don’t like that there’s a very clear alternative: Get off the US of A’s jock already.


ps. Alan Grayson? Have you ever in your life heard a more obvious cover-up name for the secret identity of a superhero?

I Hope They’ve Learned Something

Really, I hope Obama and his team have learned something from the ongoing stimulus bill drama.

We all know what happened, right? The House Dems put together a stimulus bill to which, surprise, the Republicans objected. What did they object to? Family planning. Because, you know, helping people avoid pregnancies during tough times clearly can’t do anything to help ease economic pain for individuals. Oh, no.

So the President, naively, urged the House Dems to drop the family planning proposal from the bill. And they did. Republicans cooed approvingly, happy that the new President was reaching out to them in good faith.

The only problem with that is that these cocksuckers don’t know the meaning of “good faith.” You can’t compromise with Manichean ideologues. And, yes, I think that “cocksuckers,” “Republicans,” and “Manichean ideologues” are all synonyms.

Now how many House Republicans do you think voted for the final, $819 billion stimulus bill? Come on, guess!


Predicting Republican behavior is like predicting that the night follows the day.

And if it hadn’t been Medicaid family planning, they would’ve bitched and moaned about something else. It’s what they do. They’re petulant little asses, but right now they can’t affect what happens in the House. So fuck ’em. Should it happen that there once again emerge Republicans that are interested in compromising, then we can talk. Until then, make every day a kick in the nuts for the House GOP. And I mean that literally as well as figuratively. As for those House Republicans who have no nuts, I’m sure a good punch in the throat would do.

As for the final 244-188 vote, what were the Republicans bitching about then?


No, really. The same people who vastly increased government spending while reducing revenue when former President Bush (man, that still feels good to type) was in the White House and they held both houses of Congress are nowwhining about deficits. What do they want, instead? Tax cuts. That’s right. That’s how the Federal government is going to help make up state budget deficits. With tax cuts.

That they aren’t struck dead every time they open their lying, filthy fucking pie holes is a strong argument in the case against the existence of God.

We’ll see what happens in the Senate. Will Snowe and Collins toe the GOP party line, as they usually do, or will they look at the recent political trends in their home state and cross over? Will Holy Joe Lieberman, douchebag to the stars, try to torpedo the bill so that he can get more of Karl Rove’s sweet, sweet love? What about Mitch McConnell, John Kyl, John Cornyn, and the rest of the walking cum dumpsters that comprise the Senate Republicans?

Here’s a clue, from site:

Bipartisan rejection of a partisan plan.

That’s right. They’re saying that since 11 House Democrats voted against the stimulus bill, the opposition to it was bipartisan. Eleven. Out of 255.

So, to revisit my point, and I do have one: Dear President Obama–please learn from this. I know you’re a smart guy, and you have to be able to notice these trends. Thank you.

Let’s Talk Some More

Oh for God’s sake:

Davis has booked the Walnut Room of the Hotel Allegro (171 W. Randolph) from 1 to 4 PM Sunday, February 22. He’s lined up Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, former Sun-Times media writer Rob Feder, NBC’s Carol Marin, author Alex Kotlowitz, In These Times’s Salim Muwakkil, Columbia College journalism professor Barbara Iverson, Thom Clark of the Community Media Workshop, master blogger and former Sun-Times architecture critic Lee Bey, Chi-Town Daily News founding editor Geoff Dougherty, and myself. WTTW’s John Callaway and Ben Goldberger, the editor of the Chicago edition of the Huffington Post, are maybes.


There are a couple other crucial constituencies that, as this conference is shaping up, won’t be adequately represented. The Walnut Room seats 350, Davis explains, “and at first we figured we’ll never fill the room.” Now it doesn’t seem big enough. He wants “every news-gathering entity in Chicago” represented, and if every­body does come—and every entity he’s contacted so far has sounded interested—there’ll be little if any room left for the public. The best Davis can do is promise that by the time of the conference he’ll have a Web site up and running where he’ll post an audio recording of the discussion the next day.

And the panel, for all its old-school experience, strikes me as short on the next generation of news producers and consumers—i.e., the people most likely to brim with original ideas about how to get from here to there, and about what there looks like. Beers told me about a couple of “buzzwords” he floated in San Francisco that caught on—presumably because the rescue process is still in that early, desperate stage when people cling to buzzwords. One was hybrid model—to describe for-profit online sites like his own that oversee not-for-profit reporting initiatives the foundations can get behind. The other was coopetition. That’s Beers’s term for a Common Market sort of online world in which sites link to each other in the name of synergy while promoting their individual brands. “Those ideas sound a little soft,” Beers admitted, “but they got it going.”

Look, I hesitate to criticize a thing that hasn’t happened yet, but looking at the lineup of people who’ve been there during the past fifteen years of gradually worsening crisis and have shown themselves pretty powerless to stop it so far, I’m having a hard time seeing this as anything other than yet another academic excerise in therapy.

This is mainly because in addition to the panel being short on “next-gen” types, it’s also short on news money people, ie the people who caused this whole crisis in the first place. Journalists can come up with all the good ideas they want, put a report together, bind it and collate it and distribute it to the entire world. Until you get the bosses to listen, you’re talking to yourself, and while that might make you feel better, it ain’t gonna change anything.

These are all interesting folks; some — like Kotlowitz and Marin — I really admire, but where are the news organizations’ financial decision-makers? The business managers, publishers, sales department heads, marketing and distro guys? They’re the ones that need a panel, and need to be coming up with answers, because they’re the ones responsible here, and it’s high time they were told that, instead of continuing to be allowed to place the burden of “saving local journalism” on the people who already work their asses off to DO local journalism. I know, I know, decisions are made by those who show up, but it’s time we started demanding the bosses show up.

As to thinking about money and the non-profit question we’ve been writing about a lot, Davis does intend to include local foundations, but to “seat them separately:”

Davis tells me Rich Cahan, coauthor of several news-photo collections and the organizer of the photo project “Chicago in the Year 2000,” is recruiting a delegation from Chicago’s major foundations to take in our conversation. “I kind of want to seat them separately,” Davis says. “I don’t want to be putting them on the spot—‘What are you going to do?'” But as moderator, he wants to be able to find them in the audience and ask more gently, “What could you do? What in this [economic] environment are you capable of?” Davis adds, “My own view is that there are few more important things they could do for the body politic than assure that good journalism survives in our community.”

It’s nice to think that might be within their powers.

It completely is within their powers, but it’s not … how shall I put this … OKAY AT ALL to be all “what the hell have you done for me lately?” when you haven’t asked anybody to do anything in the first place. You can’t just show up and be all, “Why didn’t you step up?” Well, send me a damn proposal already. One that doesn’t include words like “coopetition.”

What kind of profitability standards are we willing to develop and adhere to in this supposed new world, which of course is just the old world now viewed through the lens of, you know, reality? What kind of answers are we demanding from the people who gutted and skullfucked the news organizations represented by their noble practitioners (most notably the Sun-Times, which owned the last great paper I worked for and whose parent company destroyed it without remorse or redress) or are we just gonna let bygones be bygones and then act surprised when in 20 years it all happens again?

Commenter RAM put it well in a previous journalism-killer thread:

Our small independent weekly chain is a money-maker, just like virtually small weekly chains in areas that are either growing or have at least a stable population base. But over the years, we’ve seen independent chain after independent chain bought out by the big boys, who come in and immediately cut out the things people buy local papers for: Local news coverage, particularly how property tax dollars are spent, which means heavy school and municipal government coverage. After homogenizing the product into some sort of vanilla mess of features and canned columns, they profess to be surprised when the moneymaker they bought starts bleeding red ink and eventually has to be closed down.

So my suggestions: Provide comprehensive local news coverage first and foremost (and that doesn’t mean hiring consultants and their focus groups to tell you what local news is; if you don’t already know what needs to be covered and reported, you’re in the wrong business); offer subscriptions at low rates; make an effort to get your paper to readers the way they want it; and be content with profits that might not match those of some bogus software start-up, but which are enough to keep things moving ahead to long-term success and profits.

Panel might be awfully short if we just skipped straight to that, had it tattooed on everybody’s hand, and called it a day. Might save on room rental, and catering costs.


Friday Ferretblogging: A How-To

How to enjoy your pet ferrets:

Have a couch on which they can climb with impunity.

Give them your old sweatshirt when the zipper no longer works so they have a warm place to sleep.

Give them treats and watch as they scamper off to hide the treats in their special little hidey-holes.

Pet. Annoy. Repeat.


“Tonight, we bring you these leftovers…”

Last night I was watching some local TV news with the Missus, something we swear we only do to see the weather report, and came across a story that was the “top investigative piece.” Turns out that Boy Scouts across the country have been taking land that was donated to them and either selling it to developers or allowing for companies to clear cut forests on it. Sounded like a great story and I couldn’t believe it was on TV. Sounded like something a newspaper would have done.

Yup, I was right.

Turns out five Hearst newspapers poured weeks of time into this story, pulling from documents, developers, scout leaders and more to get this piece. TV news managed to boil it down to succinct minute-thirty. (BTW, when you read something that says a group of newspapers did something “in conjunction with” its TV station partners, that’s convergence parlance for “We did the work and they’re airing it.”)

If newspapers are to survive, they need to domore stuff like this. This two-part series (only TWO ARTICLES) took months of stakeouts, door banging, document surfing and dogged reporting. However, what they found was enough to make you want to throw up: people were bilking the system out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking care of each other’s kids.

The response has been immediateby the legislature, which of course means nothing will get done for a while. It’s obviously self-preservation by politicians who pretty much knew this was going on but didn’t say anything until someone shined a light into the corner where the rats and roaches were quietly munching away. Still, it’s at least SOMETHING of a response.

If TV is to survive, they’re going to have to pray to hell that newspapers do. The term “rip and read” doesn’t mean pulling wire in most newsrooms. It means, “Hey what did the newspaper folks do today that we can put with some video?” To that end, stories like the child care scam aren’t likely to keep the TV people floating, but they will help the paper stay alive long enough to produce some more of those great rip-and-read jobbies.

It’s sad when we can point to something like the child-care stories or the Boy Scouts thing as something really great. It’s like when we all kept saying “Hey, Bush didn’t bomb something today! He’s really growing as a leader!” All newspapers should be doing more of this kind of thing.

These Motherfuckers Are Beyond Shame. Or Redemption.

Time to throw a few rich pricks in one of these again.

It takes a very special kind of person to bethis much of a prick:

Three days after receiving $25 billion in federal bailout funds,
Bank of America Corp. hosted a conference call with conservative
activists and business officials to organize opposition to the U.S.
labor community’s top legislative priority.

Participants on the October 17 call — including at least one
representative from another bailout recipient, AIG — were urged to
persuade their clients to send “large contributions” to groups working
against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), as well as to vulnerable
Senate Republicans, who could help block passage of the bill.

Bernie Marcus, the charismatic co-founder of Home Depot, led the
call along with Rick Berman, an aggressive EFCA opponent and founder of
the Center for Union Facts. Over the course of an hour, the two framed
the legislation as an existential threat to American capitalism, or

“This is the demise of a civilization,” said Marcus. “This is how a
civilization disappears. I am sitting here as an elder statesman and
I’m watching this happen and I don’t believe it.”

It’s pretty impressive to see people that aren’t even slightly concerned that there might be a hell, isn’t it? So let’s recap. Bank executives, who took your money and made shitty decisions with it, have appealed to the government for more of your money so they don’t go out of business. Then they spend a portion of your money to ensure that you can’t have the rights and protections that you deserve.

And fuck Home Depot. “This is how a civilization disappears?” Yeah, god knows they don’t have any civilization in Germany or France. It’s a fuckin’ Hobbesian state of nature over there these days.

Honestly, the older I get, the more I understand the guillotine.

Journalism Lies Bleeding At My Feet

CNN: Should Your Wife Have Guy Friends?

The trivialization of America by the Internet simply has to stop.


makes more than 2 of us

I saw this earlier today. Dick Armey mocked and laughed at Joan Walsh and then said–“I’m so damn glad that you could never be my wife cause I surely wouldn’t have to listen to that prattle from you everyday.” Joan’s response– “Well, that makes two of us.”

If you like you can contact Hardball at or to let them know Dick should find a new gig…say in the 18th century.

A nation of flaws?

Russ (A’s BF) Feingold is on Maddow’s guest list tonight. Especially givenHolder’s confirmation earlier today, I’m guessing the topic is going to be the rule of law, specifically what Obama’s already done so quickly, and how much more is still left for him to do. Feingold’s been veryvocal on this since pretty much the minute Obama got elected, which I’m glad to see. As outspoken as he’s been on separation of powers, excessive government secrecy, detention and
interrogation, and privacy, I would be a lot happier if he’d speak up on the accountability side of this issue. As I’ve said before, with respect to the contingent that wants to let Bush/Cheney Inc. enjoy a peaceful retirement unencumbered by accountability for their myriad unlawful actions, I just don’t get it. The administration cannot hope to continue to simultaneously champion restoring the rule of law while ignoring the aspect of investigations and prosecutions under those laws. They can continue to try but it’s awfully, transparently, cynical. And that’s not the kind of hope we live with.

Glenn Greenwald continues to stump for real accountability and today, in addition torevisiting the issue of a two-tiered system of justice, he also tried to run down claims that Holder had pledged behind the scenes, to upstanding paragon of virtue Kit Bond, not to pursue prosecutions. After a string of typical Greenwaldian updates, the upshot, via an aide of Holder’s:

“Eric Holder has not made any commitments about who would or would not
be prosecuted. He explained his position to Senator Bond as he did in
the public hearing and in his responses to written questions.”

Read the rest

The United States of (Frozen) Bananaland


Why bother maintainingthe infrastructure that makes our modern society “modern” when we can bankrupt the treasury withneedless wars?

And would you like somesailboat fuel with that?

By the way–Dick and Dubya have certainly earned their in-the-sewer public ratings; however, for an entire generation both parties have done their level best to make the federal government the dysfunctional institution it’s become. Neo-liberals as well as conservatives couldn’t wait to distance themselves from the New Deal and GreatSociety, maintaining various fictions as to the actual workings and functions of government. And we’ve ALL suffered–well, except for those at the top, many of whom have spent decades either on the public payroll or drawing great benefit from government (no bid, cost plus contracts and so on.) It’s gotten to the point that asserting that government has a responsibility to SERVE the public is considered odd, if not outright dismissed.

And that’s scary: a government that doesn’t serve the people, but is served BY them, isn’t exactly civil society.

Wednesday Night Music

I just love the way she sings, “What if I’m not what you think I am?”


Your President Speaks!

The Friday Pre-Middle Eastern Trip Interviews, Part III: An Interview WithSaudi-owned Al Arabiya TV.

Stop The Peace

I think the major obstacle to peace is going to be the politics of both Palestinians and Israelis trying to take advantage of the difficult work that these two leaders are going to have to do to define a state; that’s what I think. I think that extremists, in some instances, will try to stop the peace.

Your Peace Pardner

One thing is, is that they know that they’ve got a good partner in peace in me.

I’m Going To Want To Know What I’m Doing

They’re going to want to know whether or not I’m going to push. And I’m going to want to know — and I’m going to tell them, yes, I am, but we expect you to be constructive players, too.

There Was Common Interests

There was common interests — common ground has been now recognized.

Rebellion In The Cerebellum

We’ll tell our — I’m sure the — our friends and allies will say, well, what are you going to do about it?

An Honest About It?

But they say that they need this program, and my answer is, is that if you need it, then why haven’t you been transparent and disclosed it, an honest about it?

Scratched The Record

And part of the trip is to tell people, yes, we’ve got — we are engaged to help you, if you want our help, to enhance security. And part of the trip is to tell people, yes, we’re engaged to help you, if you want our help, to enhance security.

The Secretaries Are Pissed

Now, look, nobody wants to be dictated to, and I’m certainly not going to do that.

Send A Common

And so I’ve spent a lot of time with allies in Europe, for example, convincing them of the importance of working together to send a common to the Iranian regime.

All You Got To Do

Keep going. All you got to do is ask; I’ll handle it.

Suiciders Again

We’ve sanctioned Syria, and I’m looking at different ways to keep sending a tough message, because so far, he has shown no willingness to be constructive on Lebanon or in dealing with a militant Hamas or in stopping suiciders from heading into Iraq.

There Is Other Leaders

And so, yes, I mean, he could try to wait me out, but there’s other leaders in the world that are as equally concerned as I am about Syria not letting the presidency go forward and really hurting this very important democracy in the Middle East.

Medulla Ohmigodda

And Syria is — has been — when we passed the resolution out of the United Nations, it worked.

Mental Mush

And yet, as opposed to honoring the notion of staying out of — and to stop obstructing politics, Syria just has not been helpful at all.

There Is Other Countries

There’s other countries I won’t be going to either.

Murderers In Their Intentions

And in order to have a safe and secure society, the state has got to show that it can provide security for the people and not tolerate pockets of extreme radicals who are murderers in their intentions, and he did.


Therefore, part of our strategy is to get others to send the same message that I’ve consistently been sending to President Assad: If you want to be isolated, if you want to be — or if you want — you have a choice: Do you want to be isolated or a part of the world?

Too Many Suiciders

The average — you know, it’s still tough. There’s still too many suiciders, but the level of violence is declining.

Suicider Credits

I would give — if, in fact, Syria is trying to stop suiciders, I will give them credit, of course. I hope that’s the case. It’s certainly one way to begin to earn better relations with the United States, is to stop the exportation of suiciders who go kill innocent people.

Against the Famine and the Crown: Galactica Thread



What would you keep in your locker? The dogtags of the men you’ve loved
and lost, certainly, and photographs of your dead relatives; records of
achievements, sentimental notes from friends and lovers. All the things
too precious to take with you but too important to store elsewhere. All
the things you need to look at every single day in order to remain
yourself. Anastasia keeps this picture hanging in her locker, and has
for years: this little girl, innocent and full of hope. This is her
heart, locked somewhere the world will never find it. This is how we
stay clean.

Spoilers inside now.

Imagine, if you will

What things were like before Athenae grew up and killed journalism.