January 11th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


  • Sad news in junk-food land. The makers of Hostess cakes and Wonder Bread, once known as Continental Baking but now the privately held Hostess Brands, is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A needed step for survival, or a ploy to get out of pension obligations? No matter what happens, I will always remember my early fondness for Hostess Sno Balls. Even at a tender age, two white hemispheres meant something to me somehow….
  • Let’s welcome the newest member to the Northwest online news family, Olympia Newsriver. Its mission: to track the legislative progress (or lack thereof) on “key bills supported and opposed by Washington’s progressive movement.”
  • Microsoft received a patent for a smartphone-based GPS system, aimed at pedestrians instead of drivers. Part of the patent application stated the software would help walkers avoid “unsafe neighborhoods.” Disguised racism, say some detractors.
  • Occupy Seattle is not only without a campsite, it may also be breaking apart. One contributing factor: ideological radicals within the movement won’t commit to strictly nonviolent actions.
  • Ex-Seattle mayor Greg Nickels says he might run for Wash. secretary of state.
  • Seattle’s second anarchist squat house in the past year has been forcibly evicted.
  • Not only is Wash. state failing its commitment to fund public schools, it’s not even trying to fund previously passed reform plans for the schools (class size reduction, etc.).
  • Amazon news item #1: “Celebrity librarian” Nancy Pearl is teaming up with the e-tail giant to reissue worthy out-of-print books.
  • Amazon news item #2: One or more individuals in South Lake Union have put up street posters calling out a noisy minority of the company’s workforce there, calling them inconsiderate “Am Holes.” Trust me: a certain percentage of socially deaf dorks can be found at any tech company. During the early dot-com days of the mid 1990s, such dorks seemed to be everywhere.
  • Get set for more rich/poor class conflict in the coming year, just as the Republicans and many Democrats place themselves firmly on the “rich” side.
  • The Gannett Co.’s local newspapers may start charging for web access soon, according to buzz within the biz. The subscription fee would kick in beyond a certain small number of pages accessed per month, the way the NY Times does it. Of course, the NYT is a big, substantial product with global reach. Could the Salem, OR Statesman-Journal (the Northwest’s last Gannett-owned daily) similarly command a price for its online presence? (No word yet on whether Gannett’s flagship USA Today will also go behind a paywall.)
  • The self styled “Father of the Internet” claims online access is not per se a human right, but rather “an enabler of rights.”
  • Workers at a Foxconn electronics assembly plant in China threatened mass suicide, standing on the factory roof for two days until they were coaxed down. It follows 14 suicides (plus four unsuccessful attempts) at the company’s plants in 2010. They died, and countless other workers have cracked or burned out, so western companies can get the absolute cheapest price for product.

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