The Incredible Shrinking Blue Book

incredible shrinking blue book

The venerated Wisconsin Blue Book is the latest victim of downsizing print products, be they newspapers, magazines or reference books.

Iconic Wisconsin Blue Book sheds 300 pages, blue cover

“Compared with its predecessors, the tome is much slimmer – 677 pages compared with 973 pages in the 2015-16 version – has noticeably larger type and poorly cropped photos of legislators.”

So, significantly less content – partially disguised with larger type so that the reduction seems to be a mere 300 pages when the word count cut is much deeper – and less attention to detail. Where have we seen that before? Continue reading

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Dawn of the reboot

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The days had come and gone in slow, rapid succession, so many days that everyone had come to the realization that the web wasn’t coming back to life.

Some said it was a conspiracy, that evil men and women had fed our dependency and then cruelly took it away to make us despair. Others said we just ran out of fossil fuel to feed the power plants and we owed it to the Earth to silence the things that drained the power. Others said we didn’t pass on the knowledge of how to fix the machines and thus lost the ability to make repairs.

And then there were the ones they called The Realists, who asked whether it really matters what happened and shouldn’t we just get on with living without the connections. My dad and mom were Realists. Continue reading

One morning to the end of time

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It was April 15 one year ago today, in 2015, that I picked up this journal and snapped.

I had purchased the book full of blank pages at Hobby Lobby on clearance for $3.59 and started occasionally scribbling in it on Oct. 26, 2011. Through April 14, 2015, I had filled roughly two-thirds of the book.

Then I sat down on the morning of April 15 and wrote four pages. The next day I wrote two more. The day after, another two. Suddenly I was writing in the journal every day. The morning wasn’t complete until I’d scribbled something down in the book.

I got to the bottom of the last page on June 16, then opened the blank journal Red had given me for Christmas 2014 and started writing. It had taken me three and a half years to finish the first journal. It took me six and a half months to finish the second.

The point was not to set down finished thoughts but just to write, to clear out my brain by the physical act of applying words to paper. Writers write, a wise man once told me. And so I wrote. And wrote. And didn’t care if anyone would ever see the words or what they would think when they saw them.

Inevitably I wanted to share them. This blog has become a repository for some of that writing, but I never before shared any of that first explosion, until now. It wasn’t the best writing I’ve ever done, or the worst. But in the act of doing it, I became free to keep going.

Here it is:

Continue reading

Sunset electronica: Manifesto


“You see it now, don’t you?” he said, his eyes burning with the light from the glowing screen, the screen that was not as bright as a moment before and would never be this bright again. “When all the screens are shut off and all the networks are disintegrated, there will be no words in the ether and all of these words will be scattered to the winds. And all that remains will be the words committed to parchment and paper with ink and carbon. Yes, fire can burn the words if you burn long enough, but not as quickly and efficiently as turning off the power. That is why we have kept the printing presses running, why we keep scratching in our journals, every strike of the pen a revolution, every turn of the press a declaration of war against you who would silence the poetry and prose of the ages.

“You can’t shut every mind away from every other mind, not as long as we have words to share across time and space. The heiroglyphics mean something. The cursive represent an era. Those who can unlock the keys of written language are time machines. This pen I hold is a life giver. When the battery is dead, the words to cure the illness will still be on the page. Why the battery has died will not matter, because the words will fight on. Oh, the tyrant may triumph for a few days or years, but the words will be found, the books will sit and wait for the tyrant to die – here, in this quiet and peaceful library.

“Yes, the words will wait, and one day a child will find them and learn to read them and discover that we are all alike, all unique, the lot of us, and our uniqueness is our strength – all alike in desiring to be someone, all unique in a way that no other of us can quite be. The words in the books show us, and the books with their fragile, fluttering pages will outlive the electrons.”

And as he held the book high, he cried, “Hello, Dickens – you look as young as the day is long. Hey, Bradbury, my father, look! I found Charles D in your hair and spilling out of your ears. Did you know when Oliver walked the streets that he was sending Spender to Mars? Have you you seen my Wildflower Man? He walked the fields with Ebeneezer.”