Don’t sweat the end of the world Friday
Mike Brown

I can prove the world won’t end Friday when the Mayan Calendar runs out.

It’s easy. The key word is “Friday.”

There’s no way the world is ending on a Friday. Whenever it happens, it will end on a Wednesday morning about 11 a.m.

That way we can’t get it in The Reporter until the next week.


Deadlines are funny things.

After 38 years of dealing with them, I’m convinced some people still have a basic misunderstanding of what a deadline is.

When a newspaper person says something like “the deadline is noon-Tuesday” what we’re saying is “that’s the absolute, hanging on by our fingernails, shoving square blocks into round holes latest we can take it.”

But it’s simply the nature of the business that some see the words “deadline is noon-Tuesday” and hear: “They want it turned in at noon-Tuesday.” But newspaper folks learn quickly to become philosophical about things like that.

Art by Kaitlynn Barr, a sophomore at Rockdale High School. Art by Kaitlynn Barr, a sophomore at Rockdale High School. About the first thing you learn in the news business is that stuff happens when it happens and there’s nothing you can do about it, deadlines or not.

At least three times in the past six months some major news has happened on Wednesday afternoons, literally as we were delivering the current week’s paper.

Fortunately technology has progressed to the point where a few clicks enabled us to place those stories online within a few minutes. And sometimes you just plain luck out. Several years ago we had just finished a frantic Wednesday morning and e-mailed the pages to the printer.

As is the custom at The Reporter most of our crew sat down at the break table to rest for a couple of beats before starting all over again to do it once more for the next week’s issue.

But for some reason I sat down, then got right back up again and went back to my office. My little e-mail program icon was flashing a “1” to inform me something new was in my inbox.

I clicked. It was from an Austin district judge, containing his brand new written opinion which cleared the way for construction of the Sandow 5 Power Plant.

Some hasty phone calls, and an even hastier re-write, and that became our new lead story in a paper that was literally three minutes away from being printed.


Of course, things moved at a much slower pace in the “good old days” but when we romanticize them we too often forget that in many respects the good old days were also the “bad old days.”

Might I call your attention to an item in the 100 Years Ago section of the “Looking Back” column which runs on this page?

In 1912, the 14-year-old son of the Milam County Clerk, and his wife, stepped on a rusty rake at his home.

He died.

In 1912 the disease was called “lockjaw.” Its true name is tetanus. Hardly anyone in our country dies of tetanus anymore. Tetanus deaths have declined 99 percent in the U.S. since the end of World War II.

We all get immunized at an early age and hardly think about the panic that once was part of an act as simple as stepping on a nail.

The amazing, and most ly ignored, truth is that modern medicine is a true miracle and that not terribly long ago our daily lives were dangerous in ways we seldom think about.

I once blundered onto a collection of obituaries from The Dallas Morning News in the 1930s and was stunned at how many persons in their 20s to 40s died in ways that were just accepted as the dangers inherent in life.

Sparks from fireplaces set nightgowns and pajamas ablaze, people touched unprotected power lines, horribly children were scalded by hot water being used to wash clothes, catching the flu was often a death sentence.

It’s easy to get cynical and think things today are so terrible and, of course, anyone can come up with dozens of things we’d all like to change.

But you know, right now is somebody’s “good old days.”

Not a bad thought for Christmas.

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2012-12-20 digital edition

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