Ding-dong, the Strib is dead

Okay, so the corpse hasn’t actually quit twitching yet, but I, for one, anticipate bidding a cheerful “good riddance” to the Star & Sickle:

The Minneapolis Star Tribune filed for bankruptcy, becoming one of the biggest U.S. newspapers yet to financially flame out under a heavy debt load and a punishing decline in advertising revenue. The 15th-largest U.S. daily based on circulation, which McClatchy Co sold to private equity firm Avista Capital Partners for $530 million less than two years ago, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after missing payments to lenders, it said on Thursday.

I actually spoke with an editor at the Star Tribune about writing an electronic games column for them many years ago, but being clueless dinosaurs, they didn’t think anyone would be interested in reading about video games. The editor at the Pioneer Press, on the other hand, thought it was a great idea, which, among other things, eventually led to this blog.

That’s not why I have long disliked the paper, though. Its unique combination of clueless arrogance, incompetent economics coverage, and mindless cheerleading of all things Left was astonishing for a product of the Midwest. It was a paper produced by people who wanted to be living in either New York City or San Francisco, and it showed. The Red Star actually had a MORE annoying collection of Democratic columnists than the New York Times has ever managed to assemble.

This is, of course, tremendously amusing in light of all those people who used to try to give me a hard time for electing to write for an Internet site… which just happens to have a readership that is not only larger than the Star Tribune, but has continued to grow since I began writing there in 2001. I guess after the last newspaper dies, there won’t be any real opinion writers anymore, we’ll all just be bloggers posting away in our pajamas.

Second verse, same as the first

VU2 participants will no doubt wince upon recognizing yet another echo of depressions past;

A stimulus package may be a lifeline for the nation’s economy, but it could be a death sentence for a lot of cows. Lawmakers are looking for ways to use the forthcoming stimulus bill to help dairy farmers, and the number one priority is to dampen milk supplies and prop up prices. Translation: reduce the nation’s dairy herd. Exactly how Congress will accomplish that remains uncertain.

Reducing supply to prop up prices didn’t work when wheat was the issue. And it won’t work now.

Atheist is the New Heathen

Happiness is a well-stocked library. One of the reasons I am in an exceedingly good mood today is that I finally obtained a set of the Cambridge Medieval History series planned by JB Bury to replace the one that was somehow lost amidst the chaos of a past move. This one is actually in better shape than its predecessor, for all that the dustjackets and maps are missing, and I found the whole set for not much more than the going rate of two single volumes. If you’re interested, and if you’re a regular here you doggone well should be, you can find PDFs of the eight volumes here. They’re absolutely worth the download, although at more than half a gig, you may want to burn them to CD rather than leave them on your hard drive.

Anyhow, having happily ensconced myself in the infamous Comfy Chair and settled down to a careful read yesterday evening, I was amused to encounter the following passage in light of last year’s literary labor:

Maximin’s endeavor was to stir up the principalities against the Christians, to organize a rival church of heathenism, and to give a definitely antichristian bias to education. Even the fall of Maxentius had drawn from him only a rescript so full of inconsistencies that neither heathen nor Christian could make head or tail of it, except that Maximin was a prodigious liar. He even denied that there had been any persecution during his reign.
– Cambridge Medieval History, Vol. 1 p. 5

Maximin was the Emperor Gaius Valerius Galerius Maximinus, whose persecution of Christians inspired his rivals Constantine and Licinius to issue the Edict of Milan, the first state recognition of religious freedom, and was defeated by Licinius in 313 AD. The Edict was, like the Emancipation Proclamation, far more a political weapon than a genuine act of moral principle, but it had significant historical and philosophical ramifications. The entire episode is fascinating, not so much for what it reveals about the rivalries of emperors or Constantine’s eminently pragmatic character, but for how it shows the way the heathen attack Christianity has changed very little in the last 1,700 years.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It didn’t work for Maximin then. It won’t work for Dawkins now.