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MailTribune.com
  • Dinosaur jockeys in a meteor storm

  • The Perigee moon will meet our eye like a big pizza pie tonight, although these days seeing isn't enough for believing.
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  • The Perigee moon will meet our eye like a big pizza pie tonight, although these days seeing isn't enough for believing.
    The so-called "supermoon" is 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than your average, everyday full wheel of green cheese, and comes about because of the positioning of the moon, Earth and Sun during elliptical orbits that keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool — without the need for compartmentalized Styrofoam containers.
    That's what the scientists tell us, anyway (about the Perigee, not the McDLT). If you're among the 18 percent of Americans who, according to a study done at Mass Tech, discount science and believe the sun orbits the Earth " well, I don't know what to tell you as to why the moon will appear larger.
    Seriously, how anyone in this day and age can still believe that the Sun can even find its way around the 10,000-year-old vast flatness of the Earth is beyond comprehension.
    Meanwhile, miss the Perigee moon tonight, and you'll have to wait until Aug. 10, 2014, for us to inform you of the next one.
    If we're still here.
    That's (a)more about supermoons than you probably want (or need) to know, although it should be added that these same scientists assure us that there's no direct correlation between the appearance of Perigee conditions and the recent onslaught of natural disasters.
    Those we can attribute to glob ... clim ... bad luck.
    Scientists obfuscate, of course, because doing so makes them sound smarter. Anyone who works for or reads a newspaper, however, knows what the appearance of the Perigee moon actually means.
    Meteors.
    One day, being a dinosaur is a big deal. No one bothered you on the Ark and when the floods receded you went back to ruling the vast flatness. The next " BAM! " you get whacked by a meteor and the world goes dark like Tony Soprano in the ice cream parlor.
    It happens.
    Those of us who are jockeys upon the dinosaurs have a huge disadvantage, however. Unlike our prehistoric ancestors, we can see what's coming.
    Which is why this week's announcement that the great dinosaur to the North was seeing its herd culled by the meteors of progress was no surprise. When The Oregonian set about reducing its staff by 25 percent in the newsroom alone, it was more than about people being put out of work.
    In truth, while those reporters and editors and photographers and — egads! — columnists were the ones taking the direct impact, this news about the news business was primarily about someone else.
    You.
    Yes, you " sitting there at your kitchen table reading this like Tony Soprano and his morning Newark Star Ledger. That's if you're actually at the kitchen table and haven't fallen victim to the futility of resistence ... assimilating in a recliner with some handheld, electronic device.
    Evolution's just a theory — until it smacks you in the face. The publisher of The Oregonian, according to a story the paper printed outlining the structural changes coming to the news gathering " excuse me, "content processing" " organization, spoke of how reducing home delivery to three days, truncating other daily editions of the print product and pouring resources into the online footprint were part of the company's "exciting plans for the future."
    Because, you know, it's difficult to have exciting plans for the present and downright impossible to have exciting plans for the past.
    That time warp always has been the Achilles' heel for a dinosaur dodging meteors. As you sip your coffee and get ink on your fingers (hey, we're optimists here), you read about events that happened yesterday, in stories produced today for publication in what will be tomorrow's paper.
    We rarely wake up anymore wondering what happened yesterday. If we have a television, or a computer, and if we're so inclined, we can find out about the big stories (Edward Snowden! Paula Deen!) when it was still today.
    Our own information gathering has become so simplified that the ease has lapped over the edge of the cup into our critical thinking as well. Flip a switch and the radio or the cable news stations program us into what to think " with keywords and phrases repeated in various forms 24 hours a day.
    The cold, hard singular print of a newspaper not only seems defiantly quaint in comparison, but has become the target of the ease with which persuasion techniques are enacted.
    Reading through online comments about the changes at The Oregonian, it was no surprise to see the downsizing labeled a product of the paper's "liberal agenda." We get the same thing here, from those who don't agree with an editorial or detect some other perceived bias.
    Unless, of course, the complaints come from those who know our parent company is News Corp., owned by the same folks as FOX News (at press time, at least), and therefore we somehow are just foot soldiers in an army of a conservative agenda.
    The truth is that there are economic and societal and cultural changes at hand that demographic researchers could describe in exacting detail to explain why our kitchen tables have gotten smaller and there are earplugs connecting to streaming devices in the chair across from you and " HEY! Did you see this video of a kitten trying to get out of a cardboard box?
    "Power," George Orwell wrote in "1984," "is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing."
    Sales of "1984" have jumped as much as 10,000 percent since the revelation of the NSA surveillance program, according to reports from Amazon; sales of "Animal Farm" have spiked as well. Of course, a great many of these copies will be downloaded onto e-readers " proving despite our best intentions, that while all information gathering sources are equal, some content-processing constructs are more equal than others.
    We see changes at The Oregonian, and think this is about newspapers, or technology, or economics, when it's about paying witness to evolution " the dripping faucet destruction of a tangible touchstone of our culture.
    James Gandolfini, the actor behind Tony Soprano who died last week, also portrayed the Wild Thing called Carol in the film version of Shel Silverstein's "Where the Wild Things Are."
    At one point, he describes the landscape to young Max:
    "This used to be all rock, and now it's sand. And then, one day, it's going to be dust," Carol says. "And then the whole island will be dust. And then ... well, I don't even know what comes after dust."
    Tonight, some of us will see a supermoon, and wonder whether — someday — we can find a way to send astronauts there. And dinosaur jockeys will be looking, and waiting, for meteors.
    Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com
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