squint, together

squint, together is a week-nightly weekly thingy from squinter media rounding up stuff you should know and posts from across the extended blog-o-verse. time to take off the glasses, give the eyes an ol' rub, and squint, together, for another fun-filled issue.


 trevor the owl, guest editor, site mascot

  austin, from squinter media

letter from our editor

 austin, ☕ contributor
✉️ austinw@squintermedia.com

Squint, Together is now a weekly webzine, as we turn our steely eyes to the mess that is Canadian politics for a long overdue squint. Yes, that's right, Canada: squinter media is onto you.

Brief confession: squint, together started as an April Fools' joke slapped together at the last minute. A minimally viable prank, if you will. The joke's on us!

Want to guest edit? Poke our site twitter account.

austin's weird-ass whiskey cocktail

1 bottle of vanilla whiskey
1 bottle of pineapple juice
1 bottle of cranberry juice
1 bottle, clear soda pop
1 bag, frozen fruit

this suprisingly tasty drink can be mixed in pretty much any proportions, depending on the day of week and varied according to time spent on twitter on said day. a good rule of thumb is to keep the whiskey content under 30%. use frozen fruit in place of ice cubes.

enjoy. -- austin

The Plain Dealer didn't die, it was murdered

Cleveland's paper of record – The Plain Dealer – was pronounced dead the morning of 6 April 2020, after years of corporate looting was finally topped with a round of brutal layoffs and a corporate dictat: if the surviving staff wanted to keep their jobs, they'd no longer conduct reporting on Cleveland or their beats. Their jobs would be filled instead by a remote team of underpaid freelancers.

Advance Publications is a mega-behemoth in the publishing world and the 44th largest privately held company in the United States, owning quite a few dailies, Ironman Sports Group, a controlling interest in Reddit, fully owns Condé Nast,  Turnitin, Discovery Channel (HOW?!?) and old web stomping grounds Tripod and Angelfire. It also owns Teen Vogue via subsidiary Condé Nast.

The Plain Dealer is only the latest of many publications murdered by Advance Publications: Times-Picayune,  Ann Arbor News, Teen Vogue (print edition), Portfolio, Gourmet, Mademoiselle, React Magazine, Details Magazine. It skinsuited The Birmingham News, The Mobile Press-Register, and The Huntsville Times back in 2012, sacking 400 employees across Alabama publications. In 2014, it did a massive layoff of staff at The Star-Ledger, the largest daily in New Jersey.

Like their "Canadian" counterpart PostMedia, Advance Publications has a habit of acquiring other companies, consolidating, laying off staff, and then re-investing profits in buying other companies while running publications into the ground.

Pretty much every single publication owned or acquired by Advance Publications has seen drastic drops in readerships. This, in some part, is due to the rise (and fall) of internet-based publications. But it's not that there's a lack of people willing to pay for news: WiRED's (yes, an Advance Publication-owned company) new subscriber rate tripled after introducing a paywall. The Financial Times hit one million paid subscribers last year, 75% of them being digital-only. Even smaller news-ish company Canadaland, a niche media criticism podcast is pulling in just over $30K a month for its podcast. Depending on the day of week and who you ask, BreadTube creators collectively pull in between $120K and $150K per month.

The rise of Vulture Capitalist investment firms like Bain Capital or Great Hills Partners was as predictable as the sun rising: when investment capital firms realized they could use the firm they were purchasing as collateral for the loan to purchase the victim firm, they did so in droves. Traditional companies rushed to copy this model with the same sad, predictable results.

How is it that radio stations - yes, radio stations - in Canada are managing to run nimble news orgs that somehow out cover skinflint publications owned by conglomerates? It isn't because there's massive profit in ads (ad revenue has plummeted year over year). It's because what funds publications like the late The Plain Dealer generate are funneled up to the owners, who use those funds to buy other companies to strip-mine for profit. Private Equity destroyed Fairway and Toys-R-Us (and 600,000 jobs between 2009 and 2019, and another 728,000 jobs indirectly). But it was Advance Publications who killed The Plain Dealer, through years of deliberate neglect, bleeding, and finally, a hatchet planted firmly in its back.

The Plain Dealer didn't just die. It was murdered.

related reading: Cleveland is What Happens When You Gut A Newsroom by Sam Allard

blest be: paul's COVID-19 aid/supplies chart

need food? or have gear you want to use to help? head over to Paul Blest (formerly of Splinter News, which was a Very Good Site) and check his list:

Mutual Aid/Food/Supplies During COVID-19
United States STATE/AREA,ORGANIZATION/GROUP,DONATE/VOLUNTEER,GET HELP,CONTACT Last update: March 19, 9 p.m. EST National How to build a mutual aid network in your community,<a href>https://tinyurl.com/vpv89k2…

trevor the owl sez:

Paul Blest has updated the spreadsheet with current and expanded information. Please consult it!

confession: i've been drunk nearly every day of 2020

It's sad, but true: I've been drunk nearly every day of 2020. It's been one of those years. I'm a cheap, lightweight drunk: a bottle of cinnamon schnapps lasted me a month (50% alcohol by volume, mind) definitely netting me the best dollar-to-entertainment ratio this side of a classic GBA game.

I have no plans to stop.

-- austin

Bob Diemert's weird plane plan: slow fighters

Carman, Manitoba, is a sleepy small town of just 3,000 people, but is also home to one of the only Canadian fighter plane manufacturers in Canada. His name is Bob Diemert.

Bob Diemert's a legend in the Canadian hobbyist pilot community: the man is famous (or infamous, according to some) for his fighter plane restoration jobs. Diemert first shot to pilot prominence with his debut as a stunt pilot in his own restored plane for the filming of Battle of Britain back in 1969, but he is most famous for his weird-ass plan to build slow fighter planes.

In 1982, Bob Diemert began what would be a five year journey to design and build a fighter plane in a barn shed he'd converted into a makeshift hangar and workshop. With the help of his life-long collaborative partner, Chris Ball, he would eventually build, test, and scrap some 280 wing designs over the course of three years, finally settling on just using Cessna wings for his craft instead.

A craft that never flew.

Not for lack of trying, mind you.

The entire process of developing his plane - The Defender - was captured on film by Stephen Low, who released it as a documentary in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada in 1988. Narrated by Cedric Smith, the documentary is a classic in every sense of the word.

Diemert and Ball were an incorrigibly inventive duo: Ball had built his own cybercar - The Wedge - and collaborated with Diemert to build Ball's triwheeled sports car. Ball also had his own fighter plane concept that never quite came to fruition, but he did manage to restore a Bren Carrier light armoured transport.

After The Defender failed to fly, Diemert and Ball set to work on a second iteration. That, too, never quite took off; even as late as 1995, Diemert was still working on the slow fighter concept.

It was the plucky spirit of prairie kids that the dynamic duo kept plugging away at homebuilt projects, even into their old age; in 2015, Diemert and Ball announced their latest project, a WIG cargo transport plane, which they hoped to put in production by 2016.

Chris Ball died in 2019. He was just 66.

As for Bob Diemert, he's still at it, slowly working on the latest iteration of the WIG concept. If you ever are in driving distance of Carman, Manitoba, you might be able to catch a glimpse of him at Friendship Field, the last living Canadian fighter plane manufacturer.

making the perfect cheese melt

1 block havarti jalepeno cheese
2 slices bread
⏲️ 10 minutes

Slice a nice, thick slice of cheese. Slap between two pieces of bread. Insert into toaster oven, set to 'toast'. Allow one minute for cool. I ate like, five of these in one day.

-- austin

catching up on: samantha grasso

Samantha Grasso wrote for Splinter News (until its closure in October 2019 by noted herb, Jim Spanfeller), then for The Daily Dot (until the March round of layoffs).

These days, Samantha is a featured contributor to Discourse.Blog, a very good group blog by former Splinter News staff. Oh, and she freelances, and you should very much hire her.

So uh, in no particular order:

Conservative Scammer Jacob Wohl Has an Arrest Warrant Out for Being a Massive Idiot
Conservative wunderchud Jacob Wohl wasn’t always the freewheeling political snake he’s established himself to be in recent years, but his past appears to have caught up with him in the form of a felony arrest warrant in California, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday.
published in happier times

this sentence is a work of art:

Conservative wunderchud Jacob Wohl wasn’t  always the freewheeling political snake he’s established himself to be  in recent years, but his past appears to have caught up with him in the form of a felony arrest warrant in California, the Daily Beast reported on Wednesday.

read more: Conservative Scammer Jacob Wohl Has an Arrest Warrant Out for Being a Massive Idiot by Samantha Grasso for Splinter News

Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman planned to hold a rally last week. Nobody showed up. Two reasons: 1) Jacob Wohl is the world's dumbest man 2) there's an ongoing pandemic. There really is no mystery, in his case.

Samantha tackled a mystery in January: the mystery of the mis-aimed cards sent to women who weren't pregnant.

From a 17 January 2020 article by Samantha: Why women are getting mysterious greeting cards from 'Jenny B.':

Why women are getting mysterious greeting cards from ‘Jenny B.’
Women who are not pregnant are receiving mysterious cards saying, ‘Holy guacamole! You’re going to avo baby!’ signed Jenny B. It’s a marketing scheme.
Abby, a 65-year-old retiree living in  Central Texas, was shocked when she received a letter addressed to her  daughter Hallie. Inside the pink envelope, Abby found a purple card with  an illustration of a halved avocado with a heart hovering inside its  pit. “Holy guacamole!” the card said. “You’re going to avo baby!” The  inscription was vague. “Congratulations!!!” someone had written in quick  Sharpie. “I’m so excited for you! I hope you like these.” Signed, with a  heart, Jenny B.

read more: Why women are getting mysterious greeting cards from 'Jenny B.' by Samantha Grasso for The Daily Dot

until next week!

Thank you for your interest in Squint, Together -- the weird, wacky, and definitely unfocused webzine from squinter media.

I'm excited about the move to a weekly format for a number of reasons, one of them being finally able to get some dang sleep.

I read everything you send me, even if I don't respond to any of them. If you want a response, send your mail to ✉️ hello@squintermedia.com or poke us on twitter.

This has been issue #4 in our squint together series, you can read the rest of them in our squint together archives. We publish a new issue every week on Sunday mornings, going forward.

 austin, ☕ site contributor
✉️ austinw@squintermedia.com