I made the mistake of getting a haircut today. Going to my barber on a Friday afternoon is like going to most people’s DMV, or my local post office.
He’s a nice fellow, good, easy small talker. There are nice family photos to study as he cuts your hair. He does a fine enough job of it and he’s the cheapest guy in town — those his prices are going up, and we’ll have to talk about that.
Everyone in town has figured this out, I guess, and everyone goes there. And so you wait and wait, but it is a break from other things, one supposes, and the television is on an endless loop of some sporting thing or another. He’s the kind of guy that’s on a first name basis with people and sometimes he remembers me, but my strategy is to cut short and ride on that haircut for as long as possible. So I could be easy to forget in the blur of faces he sees every month.
We talked about the VA and pensions and the Bulge and Iraq today. Once, when his shop was slower and he remembered who I was, he picked my brain about various shenanigans going on in the journalism industry. Another time he almost carved a junk out of my ear and sent me on my way home bleeding and, I think, with the haircut incomplete. Scared him. It bled so well it scared me too.
Today he nicked my neck a little just below the hairline and applied some demon-infused, artisanally crafted pain juice on it, smeared a white powder on top of that and then smacked my neck. He was a combat medic. He knows what he’s doing, I told myself.
After that I visited various book stores about town, with this weird white caking powder on my neck. No one said anything about it.
We went out for dinner. It is Friday. Friday is Pie Day:
“Clinkies!” as we used to say while trying to not stab each other with forks.
The server gave us fist bumps for ordering pie. Surely he was thinking “I didn’t even have to upsell these people!” And then he let us choose the color of pen used to sign the receipt. I went with the hunter green.
Things to read … and, sadly, none of these are written in a hunter green font.
Just as you can take steps to reduce the physical or legal risks of journalism, it’s possible to protect yourself in the digital realm. This two-part post will cover the basics of digital security for journalists. It’s impossible to learn everything you need to know from a couple of articles, but my hope is to give you enough of the basics that you understand what to study next.
Even if you’re not working on a sensitive story yourself, you need to understand digital security because an attacker can harm other people by going through you. This post contains generic security advice that everyone in journalism should heed, with specific advice about simple things you can do right now to improve your security.
David Sirota reports on “How Government Blacklists Journalists From Accessing the Truth” stating that “The public is being systematically divorced from public policy, which is exactly what too many elected officials want.”
“In recent years, there have been signs that the federal government is reducing the flow of public information,” Sirota writes, agreeing with a growing consensus from many Washington D.C. journalists.
Sadly, there’s no surprise there.
This thoughtful essay from a student-journalist, I will not be returning to Ferguson:
There are now hundreds of journalists from all over the world coming to Ferguson to film what has become a spectacle. I get the sense that many feel this is their career-maker. In the early days of all this, I was warmly greeted and approached by Ferguson residents. They were glad that journalists were there. The past two days, they do not even look at me and blatantly ignore me. I recognize that I am now just another journalist to them, and their frustration with us is clear. In the beginning there was a recognizable need for media presence, but this is the other extreme. They need time to work through this as a community, without the cameras.
I read aloud a bit of Willie Morris tonight. I’ve been searching for examples of excellent writing to share with students, so I had to raid one of the bookshelves in our library. This won’t be the one of Morris’ that I share, but it is worth a read. This is when he was writing from Oxford, Mississippi and remembering his time and a love on Long Island, New York. The complete essay isn’t online, so a brief excerpt:
She would say, “You’re not too old and I’m not too young.” But she was the marrying age, and she wanted a baby. The love we had was never destroyed; it was merely the dwindling of circumstance. How does one give up Annie? Only through loneliness and fear, fear of old loves lost and of love renewed – only those things, that’s all. The last departure came on a windswept October noon of the kind we had known. We stood on the porch of my house and embraced. “Oh — you!” she said. She lingered for the briefest moment. Then she was gone, a Tennessee girl with snow in her hair again. She married a local boy and now has two little daughters, I hear on good authority from Long Island. The years are passing, and don’t think I haven’t thought about it.
The man could write. But he was perhaps never better than when he’s writing about home (which is why whichever Willie Morris piece I hand out in class will have at least two references to jonquils). Happens to a lot of us, I suspect.
Do you ever get the feeling Patrick Stewart is just cooler at everything?