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May 11, 2017


I have had a subscription to The Economist for decades. They definitely have a point of view, but they are generally good about keeping their opinions in their editorials ("Leaders") and out of the news columns. I find that seeing US news from an outside perspective can be really helpful. And it can be amusing to see what the foreign government commenters have to say. (The Chinese government has a department account, happyfish18, which means that the quality of the comments under that ID varies drastically. And sikko6, the North Korean government account, is sometimes hysterically funny in its take on things.)

I also a subscription to Science News -- although I tend there to read the hard-copy when it arrives, rather than frequenting the website.

I do read (skim) the Washington Post. If only to keep abreast of what the folks inside the beltway are thinking, since they are the ones running the country.

For local news, I check the local paper (East Bay Times) on-line. You might suggest to your parents that they can probably do the same for one (or more) of the Wisconsin or Illinois papers.

Beyond that, I'm enough of a political junky that I go by 538 regularly. And then there are all the links to fascinating stuff that I get here....;-)

USA Today is actually not a bad source of relatively uncolored plain old news.

If your folks are used to the CSM, they will probably find that the writing is pitched to a somewhat lower reading level.

But if they just want information, they could do worse.

If I were your parents, I'd check out the Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and Minneapolis Star-Tribune and see which of their sites works best. I think the Trib is still an excellent paper with good, accurate reporting--although I disagree with their editorial board about pretty much everything--but its website is kind of a pain, and your parents would have to pay for it to read it regularly. If they want good coverage of the midwest, a midwestern paper is the way to go.

I'm not in the Midwest, but my morning news order is the Denver Post (local), the LA Times (western regional) and the Washington Post (NE urban corridor/international). The Atlantic for opinion pieces. I would expect that it's possible to do the same sort of thing almost anywhere.

Paywalls and subscriptions are a touchy subject. The WSJ does a proper implementation: if you don't subscribe, you don't get to read their specialized content, and authentication happens on their servers. The others... well, a paywall that depends entirely on their being allowed to execute unvetted code using data stored on my machine is problematic. Or if they can be fooled by something as simple as putting an appropriate value in the Referer: field of the request. The same applies to advertising where no one appears to be reviewing the content or monitoring performance levels*. But I'm peculiar. Heck, I run almost all content through a filter I wrote to severely limit font faces and sizes; the internet I see is enormously more consistent in terms of appearance than what my wife sees on her machine.

* The first thing you notice when you add an ad-blocker is that the flashing, autoplaying, obnoxious ads aren't there. The second thing you notice is how much faster pages typically load, because the ad companies' servers are always overloaded and slow.

My mistake, I praised the WSJ inappropriately: they used to do it right. They've decided to open one or more holes in the payroll. If you set the Referer: field to indicate Facebook or Twitter, they'll show you all of the stories linked from the front page. This illustrates the bind the media find themselves in. Not letting people refer their friends to a WSJ article upsets subscribers; users of social media are vehemently opposed to allowing real credentials to be stored and used in the referal; something as simple as a check on the Referer: field is easily abused.

It's not Midwestern, but for a quick, fact-centric view of national news I've been quite pleased with WTF Just Happened Today (https://whatthefuckjusthappenedtoday.com/). The site started recently to report on the Trump regime, so it is politics-centric, but it has short paragraph summaries and links to primary sources (e.g., Reuters, CNN, etc.) for the top 10-20 stories of the day.

Erik's link without the extra paren.

I hope!

I just got off the phone with my Mom, and she's particularly exercised about getting better international news. There's the BBC, of course, but she doesn't care for Brits much. Which German paper has a good English-language site? Is there a good English-language site from Scandinavia?

There's the BBC, of course, but she doesn't care for Brits much.

Interesting remark. Care to give any details/reasons?

She never got over the British Invasion.

Ah, like you Count, except (as James Joyce said about the "cursed jesuit strain") injected backwards.

But seriously, I would be interested to know the reason for this prejudice, if Doc Science was prepared to expand on her remark.

Girl (and others):

I think it's a general feeling that Brits (and Anglophile Americans) think they're waaaay more important in history and the world than they are, and especially than they deserve to be.

She's German-Amer/Swedish-Amer, and nothing makes her crankier than people calling her a WASP. A teenager during WWII, with a father who served in WWI (though not in combat), she heard a lot of anti-German sentiment and set her teeth against it.

And then she married my Dad, who's Irish-Amer and whose mother only emigrated during the Troubles. So there was a lot of anti-British feeling to go around.

In sum, I think a lot of it is sheer cussedness, and also pushback against the fauning Anglocentrism to be found in college English departments -- my Dad was a Prof. of American Lit, so they had a lot of *intensely* Anglophile friends.

I think it's a general feeling that Brits (and Anglophile Americans) think they're waaaay more important in history and the world than they are, and especially than they deserve to be.

Well, given the world situation, they are definitely resisting getting moved down the list. I think they/we* are in for rough fall after the dust from Trump/May** clears

*My mom emigrated from England.

*Yes, I know Trump is of German descent, but as Zach Galifianakis observed in his interview with Hillary, he definitely wants to wear a white power tie...

reuters. uk based, but not so you'd notice.

Thanks, Doc. Yes, that makes plenty of sense, particularly the *intensely* anglophile academics, whose attitude I am sure can be pretty offputting.

And then she married my Dad, who's Irish-Amer and whose mother only emigrated during the Troubles. So there was a lot of anti-British feeling to go around.

Regarding this, the last sentence certainly rings very true. How justified it might always be is a moot point. I was once on a plane sitting next to an Irish-American, and although I expressed sympathy for the Republican position, I deplored the violence. He completely denied that the IRA had ever set off any bombs on the UK mainland, and by this date there had certainly been more than a couple, including the Harrods bomb which had gone off not that long before. It was pretty clear that the news that was getting through to the average Irish-American non-news-junkie was heavily partial, not to mention censored.


We didn't really grow up pro-Irish in that way. Although my Grandmother was at least a collaborator with the IRA, she loathed Ireland, was glad she left, and resisted going back to visit. Her children gave her a trip to Ireland for her 75th birthday, and she was at first quite reluctant to take it.

She grew up in a convent orphanage, you see, and though her father was still alive and it wasn't one of the worst kind, it left her with bad memories & bad feelings about Ireland. Not sexual abuse, I think, but definitely emotional abuse and some physical abuse ("discipline", they called it).

Just a bit worried that my comment might be taken as a slam of anyone here, but that certainly wasn't intended.

(over)Thinking about it, I've got similar relationships with English/UK culture and Japanese culture, tons and tons of interesting stuff, things I really like, but what they get up to when some of them think about themselves, sheesh. As an example from Japan, this. It disturbs me a bit to think that I am egging them on by saying I love the culture.

omg lj, that is *hilarious*. I will never feel bad about not being sure which part of east asia a person is from again.

In my experience, the only way (the ONLY way) to tell by looking what part of East Asia someone is from is clothing and gestures. That is, stuff that is readily altered by an actor or a model. With a still photo, it simply isn't possible.

Not that most folks there would accept that. But this just shows that it really is reality. Unpalatable as that may be to the ethnic warriors.

lj, you are altogether too scrupulous. I can't see how anybody could object to what you said.

Doc, your grandmother's bad feelings about Ireland mirror those of many people I know with some Irish heritage, particularly (as presumably in her case) if they ever had anything to do with nuns. You probably know about the current convulsions there where the younger generation is fighting to end the Catholic Church's stranglehold on power of various sorts, with so far mixed success.

Doc, I want to ask you a favour. I know I brought it on myself when I chose my nom de plume, and I know that GftNC is a pain to type, but it gives me the willies to see myself addressed as Girl. I hope you have no objection to Doc, but if you do just let me know. And if you can find any alternative to Girl, I will be very grateful.


Sorry! I chose ease-of-typing (as I often do), won't do it again. Or I'll just C&P Girl from the North Country, because unpronounceable acronyms are often hard for my brain to parse. Unless there's a different, short nickname you'd prefer?

No, that's great. Thanks.

"Ah, like you Count, except (as James Joyce said about the "cursed jesuit strain") injected backwards."

Best comeback I've ever experienced. ;)

It gives me pleasure to make you smile.

I don't have any specific sites to recommend, but there are various browser plugins to kill autoplay videos, e.g.:


You'll also want uBlock Origin to kill ads:


You can even get a plugin to kill pop-up overlays that nag you to subscribe:


And don't forget to turn off third-party cookies.

My personal preference is the Chicago suburban paper, the Daily Herald.

Yes, it is primarily focused on the Chicago suburbs, but it has a good national section as well as AP international stuff. If you live in IL or WI, this should be on your list.

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