Monday, December 14, 2020

A Blast from the Past: Tik-Tok Menu and Scotty's Ad

Just recently I was looking at my dad's Benson High School yearbook. Inserted in the front cover was the Tik-Tok menu below:

We never went to the Tik Tok that I remember, but my dad and mom dated while she was a carhop there in 1943-1944. So, we have heard about it all our lives.

The menu is one half page (front and back). Interesting that you could get a burger, fries and milkshake there in 1943-1944 for 55 cents with an extra 5 cent charge to have it taken to your car. Kind of neat to see what the full menu was.

Awhile back I found a Scotty's ad from a 1955 Oregonian. When I was a kid my parents would take me and my older brother to Scotty's for a special treat of hamburger and french fries. It was more a McDonald's sized burger and fries. We never got the milkshake. But, my dad would order a number of hamburgers, and he would eat enough of them to fill him up. My mom, older brother and I were usually satisfied with one hamburger and fries. It was a fun time.

Later, when McDonald's came to Portland, I remember you could get a hamburger (15 cents) and fries (10 cents) for a quarter. I don't remember how much a milkshake was. It wasn't a special family place though we did go there, but I went with my teenage friends there quite often for a cheap outing.



Sunday, November 29, 2020

Oregonian Daily's Paid Circulation Declines 18% From Last Year

The Oregonian published it's Statement of Ownership information this month. This is required of newspapers and magazines using the U.S. Post Office to deliver copies of their publication.

The news was not good. Oregonian daily paid circulation for the August 28, 2020 Friday issue was 49,118. That's a drop of more than 10,000 from the August 23, 2019 Friday paid circulation of 59,998. It's an 18% loss in one year.


The daily paid circulation in 2012 was 219,997. There has been an astonishing 75% decline in daily paid circulation since then.

 The Sunday edition's paid circulation fared slightly better than the daily with a 15% loss from 82,054 in 2019 to 69,726 in 2020. I only have stats from 2014 on the Sunday paper, but it is down 65% from 2014's paid circulation of 203,031. 

Unfortunately, the steep fall in paid circulation follows upon an even worse slump in good reporting and editing. (See my last post on a poorly written article published earlier this month on Governor Brown's plan to spend $55 million in federal aid to help Oregon businesses suffering from COVID-19-related losses.) 

Oregonian Gives Gov. Brown Credit for "Giving State Aid" with Federal Money

Here's the headline: Oregon Gov. Kate Brown pledges $55 million in state aid for businesses hurt by COVID-19

I thought, "Wow! Governor Brown is finally giving state money to help businesses hurt by her policies." NOT!

The money is federal aid given to the state to administer. It's not state money. It took the Oregonian until the 7th of 9 paragraphs to note that Governor Brown was giving federal money not state money.

"The $55 million relief funds come from federal CARES Act funds Congress approved in March. The governor’s office said Tuesday she set some of Oregon’s share aside anticipating additional business support might be needed later in the pandemic."
If the money was approved in March and distributed in April, why did the Governor wait until mid-November to distribute the federal relief money? The City of Portland made its plans for distribution of CARES Act funds in July. Except for Portland, Multnomah and Washington counties, CARES aid to the other cities and counties in the state had to go through the Governor.

As to why it finally comes in November, there is a partial answer. Governor Brown can't wait much longer to spend the money as it "must be allocated by the end of the year unless Congress grants an extension to the states." So, the clock ticking since March is close to running down.

It's a poorly done story from the beginning. Governor Brown isn't giving state aid, she's administering federal funds. It's as though the reporter, Mike Rogoway, knows nothing about the CARES aid and what better administered jurisdictions in Oregon have done much earlier than the Governor with their funds. 

This is why paid circulation of the Oregonian keeps dropping. This isn't just an inept reporter. This is an issue those in charge of editing the newspaper should know about and did not show due diligence in overseeing the work of the reporter and how the story was presented. The earlier stories by Everton Bailey Jr. cited above were informative. This story reads like a regurgitation of a press release puff piece put out by Governor Brown's office. The Oregonian's quality of reporting and editing is, to say it kindly, uneven. (See my next post for the latest bad news for the Oregonian on paid circulation decline.)



Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Musings About the Election

I basically dropped out of following politics the last four years. It has been the most peaceful four years of my adult life. Heh.

But, some things filter through. I've been musing over the bits and pieces I've heard.

1. Personality/Character. Donald Trump lost (if he has lost) because of his character. I know people who normally vote Republican who actually voted for Biden just because Biden is "nicer" and they were sick of the name calling and rudeness of Trump. Unfortunately, Trump's political friends (I'm thinking here especially of some evangelical leaders), didn't help Donald Trump as long ago the prophet Daniel tried to help Nebuchadnezzar turn from his arrogance. (Daniel 4:27)

I didn't vote for Trump last time, but did this time. I was able to do it because I didn't listen to very much of what he said and almost nothing of what the media said over the past four years.  So I did not gag like some of my friends at the thought of four more years of President Trump. I did notice the confirmation of three supreme court justices who seem to want to interpret the constitution rather than mold it to follow their own views. On the other hand as nice as Joe Biden may or may not be, he is for easy abortion--easy killing of babies. That makes me truly gag.

2. Bizarre infighting. I am astounded at how crazy the infighting is among conservatives on Trump. I also gave up Twitter for four years. Ah, what relief that was! I took a few peeks this election season and got out of there as fast as I could. The comments were mostly bizarre to someone who had not been immersed in the political back and forth. Some people seem to only live for Trump's defeat others only for his re-election. Life, even political life, is bigger than that.

3. Fighting in court about the election. What a tight election. We thought 2000 was hard. People who were so glad George Bush fought the methods of counting votes in Florida are bewailing how Trump's very similar fight will bring the republic down! I, on the other hand, think if we keep on going like we are where at least 40% of Americans think their votes are not fairly counted, the country is headed for a dictatorship or anarchy. If you don't believe you have a fair chance to make political changes, why stick with the current system? In that poll only 9% of Republicans felt that votes were not fairly counted. Today lots more Republicans than that feel the vote counting system is unfair. Add those in, and even subtracting the Democrats who are now somewhat happy, I bet the leap is up to over 50% of Americans who don't trust the election system.

I'm for both sides fighting in the courts, with evidence, for fair elections. The courts may not give them, but at least there's some chance of bringing the facts out about how votes actually are counted or how additions are made to or subtractions taken from legal votes. I like to see a light shined on shenanigans. That almost never happens in either the executive or legislative branches of government. 

4. Corrupt media. The same people who four years ago were touting people who wanted to give Obama's supreme court pick (Merrick Garland) a vote were calling only the Republican side hypocritical for supporting Trump's right to make a pick. Not a word about the hypocrisy of the media and Democrats who made the same 180 degree swing. Twice I heard a local TV news anchor intone that Republicans had changed their position without a word about Democrats having changed their position too. If you didn't remember the story, you would be led to believe the inferred lie that only Republicans had changed their position. If you depend on the media for information and insight, you of all people are to be most pitied. Your view of reality is badly skewed.*

5. Bottom line. The next President will have huge problems to tackle including an escalating national debt that neither major party now cares about. Bread and circuses. A country of voters who believe a lying media and have no self-discipline to do what is right or please the God of compassion and truth. That's what will bring the country down not a court battle over this election or even the election of either a bumbling leader or a bad-mannered one. 


*Another instance of media lying by omitting or downplaying facts is the Oregonian inferring COVID-19 is the main cause of the wreck of downtown Portland rather than the daily violent protests and chaos in the streets.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Oregonian Has Trouble Explaining Business Flight from the City Center

 From a recent Oregonian article on businesses almost frantic to leave city center:

"Businesses want out of downtown Portland, as soon as possible.

"The amount of space available for sublease in downtown jumped by 36% in the spring as tenants sought to vacate offices and storefronts in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data provided by real estate firm CBRE. Other firms have also reported an increase in the number of downtown businesses looking to leave."

 The lead thought is that it is due to the pandemic though protests are mentioned.

"The pandemic has led to empty office buildings and a lack of tourism, depriving downtown businesses of their regular clientele. Business owners have expressed concerns about continued downtown protests, which have given Portland a reputation for upheaval and, at times, led to vandalism and looting."

Reporter Jamie Goldberg does take issue with real estate firm vice president Trevor Kafoury's claim that it is national coverage of Portland protests, not the protests themselves, that is causing people to stay away from downtown in droves. She points out that Kassab Jewelers and Standard Insurance have had real security problems.

“'I don’t think there are ‘unique’ issues,' Kafoury said. 'Many downtowns face issues related to social unrest. However, Portland has received an inordinate amount of national media attention and a challenge we face is overcoming the perception that has been created for downtown.'”

"However, it isn’t an issue of perception for some downtown businesses.

"Kassab Jewelers was looted after a riot broke out on May 30 following a peaceful protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Kassab Jewelers' downtown location has yet to reopen and its owners are now suing the City of Portland for failing to protect downtown merchants.

"Bob Speltz, a spokesman for Portland-based insurance company The Standard, said in August that the company had relocated downtown employees to the suburbs after its office building sustained repeated damage and several employees and security contractors were assaulted near the downtown office. He said The Standard was deeply supportive of a renewed focus on racial justice, but concerned about continued 'criminal activity from opportunists not associated with the legitimate protests.'”

Still Goldberg has trouble putting two and two together. She reports that businesses are fleeing downtown Portland to places "outside downtown and in the suburbs"--which have the same COVID-19 problems as downtown Portland. So, why is business so much better outside city center? Goldberg doesn't seem interested in finding the answer.

"Industry experts aren’t seeing the same problems outside downtown and in the suburbs.

"[Jacob] Pavlik [a real estate company research manager] said some companies that were already considering moving their offices to the suburbs have been quicker to pull the trigger because of questions about the downtown market. Kafoury said he has seen numerous downtown tenants touring suburban spaces and considering a move out of downtown as well. Other tenants have stayed in downtown spaces after working with their landlords to restructure their leases."

The only major difference that has suddenly appeared on the scene is the protests and their violence which the mayor, city council and the Multnomah County district attorney seem not at all interested in curbing. In fact, another Oregonian article released on the 7th reports the Multnomah County DA Mike Schmidt has "declined" to prosecute 70% of the protest cases referred to him. That he hasn't declined to prosecute 70% of all cases referred to him by the police shows that he has been corrupted by personal agreement with or fear of the law breaking protesters so that he treats them differently from all other law breakers--which is, paradoxically, exactly what the protesters are supposed to be protesting--unequal treatment. The new slogan should be: Defund District Attorneys!

Schmidt doesn't seem to have a problem prosecuting violence outside city center and in the suburbs even for minor crimes, but downtown it's a different story. People see that difference and feel how dangerous downtown has become but don't feel similarly about doing business outside the downtown area or in the suburbs.

It's pretty clear that violence will continue in city center and business will continue its disastrous decline as long as people like Schmidt, Wheeler and the Portland City Council are elected. Caveat emptor.


Friday, October 02, 2020

Results of 2020 Flu Season May Be a Good Test of Effectiveness of COVID-19 Strategies

Do face masks really help that much?

Does social distancing really help that much?

Does going out very little really help that much?

All of these are part of the insistent clamor about what stops COVID-19. It is a flu. Now that the flu season is upon us, we may be able to judge their effectiveness by how much or how little they do to stop flu hospitalizations and deaths compared to previous years. 

My own view is that all those things only delay the moment of contact with COVID-19. I believe most everyone will eventually be exposed to it, so the main benefit of masks, social distancing and lack of travel is keeping the medical system from being overwhelmed by patients at any particular time.

The CDC estimates average annual deaths from the flu as between 12,000 and 61,000 since 2010 in the U.S. That's a pretty wide range. But, actually determining deaths from diseases like the flu or COVID-19 is not that easy. Almost always there are contributing factors that in themselves could cause death as well. So, determining the major cause of death is a guess.

Here are the figures for each year:

    2010-2011 - 37,000 deaths

    2011-2012 - 12,000 deaths

    2012-2013 - 43,000 deaths 

    2013-2014 - 38,000 deaths

    2014-2015 - 51,000 deaths

    2015-2016 - 23,000 deaths

    2016-2017 - 38,000 deaths

    2017-2018 - 61,000 deaths*

    2018-2019 - 34,000 deaths*

    2019-2020 - 22,000 deaths*

    *Estimates from the 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020 seasons are preliminary and may change as data are finalized.

Still, these are ballpark numbers that might give indications of the effectiveness of the current COVID-19 strategies.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Oregonian blames pandemic rather than violence for restaurant failure

Vitaly and Kimberly Paley

Oregonian email headline: A Portland chef on the pandemic and downtown restaurants: 'There’s not a single soul walking by'

You can't read the story if you aren't a subscriber, but the headline seems to indicate the chef blames it all on COVID-19. Here's the first paragraph from the email:

"DOWNTOWN DINING: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the James Beard Award-winning chef Vitaly Paley and his wife, Kimberly Paley, employed more than 200 people across their Portland restaurants, including Imperial (shown here in 2012). But as downtown Portland emptied out amid the coronavirus pandemic, Imperial brought in less than 20% of its pre-coronavirus business. It closed Saturday after an eight-year run, and other Paley restaurants downtown have dim futures."

But, the main huge factor for no one eating at downtown restaurants is the continuing violence downtown (last touted as 100 days of protest).

COVID-19 certainly has had an impact because of Governor Brown's mandates about social distancing which cuts restaurant business at least in half for indoor dining. 

However, that it isn't the major reason for the 80% drop off in Chef Paley's restaurants can be seen by restaurants open and doing business in other parts of the city where there is no ongoing violence. In my area even mom and pop restaurants are open, some doing only takeout but a significant number with in restaurant dining. COVID-19 isn't keeping customers away from their restaurants, though, of course, governmental rules have made profitability extremely difficult.

Poor Chef Vitaly Paley had the bad sense to locate his restaurants in downtown Portland where government is incapable of doing the main job of government: keeping its population safe.

I feel sorry for Chef Paley and the other business owners in downtown Portland. They may have an excellent product and business model, but that doesn't mean anything when government is so incompetently run that people fear to go to near their businesses.

I have long tried to avoid doing any business downtown. Traffic patterns have long been a mess. But now you couldn't pay me to go downtown. There's not only the violence but the city can't even stop protesters from blocking off major streets--even the freeway. Who wants to risk being stuck in a giant traffic jam, let alone face possible physical violence? And when it comes time to move, you better believe I will do everything possible to locate outside Portland city limits.