I’ve been busy, because two and a half weeks ago OmegaDad suddenly discovered he had a (very typical) middle-aged man’s problem that needed “routine” surgery. My last blogpost was written while we were waiting for the “routine” surgery. Need I say that the phrase “routine surgery” has become somewhat…um…tainted for me after the past year? After all, my mom had “routine” pacemaker surgery, and my dog had “routine” abdominal surgery, and both died.
So it was amazing how the tension went out of my shoulders as soon as I got OmegaDad back home from the outpatient surgery and things went swimmingly well.
Okay, they went swimmingly well from my point of view, not his. He is still not happy, because the healing is taking longer than a day or two, and thus he can’t do all his normal activities, nor can he sit for very long and veg out at the computer, wandering the twisty, turny passages of the Intartubes.
The nice thing about the whole affair for me is that it has kept me busy. I’ve been cooking, schlepping out to the chicken coops, mowing the lawn, reminding about pain meds, washing dishes, in addition to handling the dotter’s affairs—all of which is normally split between the two of us (mostly on his end; OmegaDotter’s schedule keeps me plenty busy normally). The busy-ness has made it so that mom’s death has been pushed into the background of my mind. Oh, it’s still there, and easily ramps back up when anyone wants to talk about it, but it’s been pleasant not to be constantly feeling like there’s that black hole in the pit of my stomach.
In the meantime, there are two stories I want to mention here that have caught my attention in the past week.
First off, there’s the press-and-blogger viewing of “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy”, a documentary that follows an 8-year-old from China who is adopted by a family from the U.S. The film will be premiering on PBS in August; this is the trailer:
When I first watched that trailer, many months ago, it broke my heart. I imagined OmegaDotter—also 8 years old—in that situation, being taken from her family of four years in the U.S. (Faith was living with a foster family for 4 years) to be adopted by a family from China. I thought about how she would feel, what it would be like for her, and watching Faith cry that she wants to go home to China just…well…words can’t say how much that hurt.
Two bloggers—Malinda and Peach—were invited to the preview. While I think that the original plan of the documentary was to be a feel-good happy-happy adoption story, they got a different feel from it. Read their reviews (linked on their names) and see what you think.
The second story is that of the hoo-rah at ScienceBlogs. The gist: ScienceBlogs is a collective blog about (surprise!) science, with a stable of about 70 bloggers from all walks of science, including science journalists, medicos, physiologists, professors, physicists, biologists, archeologists, mathematicians, etc. It started in
2004 2006 and has gained quite a reputation as the go-to place for science on the web. This week, however, a blog was introduced called “Food Frontiers”, which was an “outreach” of PepsiCo. It was given the same prominence as all the other blogs (all invited to join), but was obviously a corporate thing bought and paid for, though not explicitly labeled as such. And, interestingly enough, while previous semi-corporate-linked blogs had been introduced beforehand, this one hit the SB front page with no warning whatsoever.
Well. The shit hit the fan. The question of the firewall between editorial and advertising was debated far and wide. A subset of the bloggers left the site in response, with pretty candid “farewell” posts explaining why. A number of other bloggers said they were dubious, at best, and were considering leaving. One blogger sniffed that it was all a bunch of hysteria over nothing in a very disparaging way. The management (and, probably, PepsiCo) decided that this was a Bad Scene All Around, and removed the corporate blog in question. All that’s left is the post mortems.
I watched this with great interest. My immediate response upon reading the original “hi, there!” post on Food Frontiers was, WTF?! This is an advertorial, damn it! What’s it doing not being marked as such?!?! Ewwwwwww!!!!
For those who don’t know, an "advertorial” is what publishing calls advertising posing as editorial. In the journalism world, such things are (alas) often necessary to pay the bills, but definitely clearly marked as advertising, usually done in a totally different design than the remainder of the magazine. Including an advertorial in the midst of the magazine, using the same design, giving it the same editorial weight as writing by the staff, and not marking it (clearly, plainly, obviously) as advertising is a big no-no. I mean, it’s taboo. Really, truly. As someone who spent 10 years writing and editing in business journalism, I can tell you (and those bloggers and commenters who think the whole uproar is a tempest in a teapot) that no matter how you feel about journalists and the ethics of mainstream media, when I say “taboo”, I mean totally, utterly, absolutely, no doubt about it, this is a line in the sand, TABOO. You do not do this. And if you do this, and someone finds out, and you are called out about it, you lose serious credibility as a journalistic source.
It’s like, say, having sex with your sister, that’s how taboo it’s considered.
I was appalled, myself. I guess I have that verboten written upon my subconscious in letters of fire or some such thing; it was such a visceral response.
(Interestingly enough, I think mom’s response would not have been that emotional. She was very pragmatic and less likely to imbue the journalism biz with idealism. However, she would definitely have thought it was a sincerely bad idea, and rolled her eyes at how stupid it was for the management at ScienceBlogs to take that approach.)
Anyway, here’s a round-up of all the ScienceBlogger’s takes on the subject, and various commenting from other sources, courtesy of BoraZ (one of the bloggers at SB). Alas, it’s not in chronological order; every search I’ve done on various search sites hasn’t produced one, so…start at anything dated July 7 and work your way forward.