Forever Downsizing, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

It’s not just me: everything is downsizing. In a recent turn through the basement, I found a Wall Street Journal from the late ’90s. I’m comparing here to an Atlanta Journal Constitution, but they’re all smaller now, and a modern WSJ is the size of this AJC…

1990s WSJ versus 2016 AJC

Shrinking newspapers, and my State of Mind on downsizing.

Along about 2006 or 2007, newspapers changed, one-by-one, to the square format.  They’re thinner now too. I know it’s good to be using fewer trees, yet I also have a fear that the “news” as we have known it is downsizing too, and not in a healthy way (but I’ll keep that rant or another time).

1999 WSJ Year-End Review

One more oldie — here’s the 1999 WSJ Year-End Review. Remember Y2K? Other than that, some of the players have changed, but we still have Star Wars.

As for downsizing in general: I remember a Kurt Vonnegut story with a subplot in which the Chinese were working on solving over-population by making people smaller and smaller, so we’d use less space and consume fewer resources on the planet.

The last time I thought of that was on a sweltering summer day in Manhattan, when I felt like I was boiling just walking down the street. I looked at the trees: small. I looked at the buildings: large. “We need to shrink ourselves,” I thought. “Either that or make trees larger, so cities could fit under them and be shaded. Oh wait… Vonnegut already thought of that.”

I did a quick google to find out what story the shrinking people were in, and found this instead. Here’s a quote from this link

When Arne Hendriks, a 6” 4’ Dutchman, faced audience members at TEDxBrainport in 2012, he smiled apologetically. “I have some bad news for you,” he said. “You’re not short enough.” Hendriks believes that the planet’s growing population—currently at 7 billion—is unsustainable. His solution? We should shrink ourselves to 50 cm, around the height of a chicken. “I think we can actually achieve that,” he says.

But back to Vonnegut (and newspapers) I still don’t know which story has the shrinking people, but I found this in a 2007 NYTimes article:

But the time to read Vonnegut is just when you begin to suspect that the world is not what it appears to be. He is the indispensable footnote to everything everyone is trying to teach you, the footnote that pulls the rug out from under the established truths being so firmly avowed in the body of the text.

I’ve found copies of nearly all Vonnegut’s books as I sorted through my shelves and Bob’s boxes. I reread Cat’s Cradle not long ago and yep, still loved it. Maybe my State of Mind is extra goofy this week, or maybe I’m just one of those people who still suspects the world is not what it appears to be, even in the newspapers.

Are you?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

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12 thoughts on “Forever Downsizing, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

  1. Love this post, Sandy, and I love that you have one of my favourite not-used in -Ireland words, ‘goofy’ in there as well.
    I HOPE the world is not what it appears to be, even in newspapers, and I SUSPECT so too. The hope is to the fore with your Super Tuesday on the go today!!!!!

    • Yes, we are part of Super Tuesday here…Oh Jean, would you believe: the newspaper article with information about voting in the primary election today warned people that “selfies” are not allowed in the voting locations. We had to be told that? See? you are missing out on not using GOOFY.

      • I may well introduce it into Ireland! I first heard it from an American in relation to a pair of ‘goofy’ runners I was wearing and then later, years later in the context of ‘goofing around.’ Has it many other uses?

        We had the same thing about Selfies at our recent election here in Ireland.

      • Goofy: well, there is the Disney character (created in 1932), and the great debate “what is he?” — dog? man? (I’m not a Disney fan, but I must have picked this up by osmosis)
        Not sure if I’m glad we aren’t the only ones who need to be told not to take Selfies when voting. Whew – triple negative. I’m sorry we’re all so selfie-centered.

  2. That is such an interesting thought – saving the planet by shrinking ourselves and consuming less in the process. It could work. The less space we take up, the more room we have for more friends in this world…

    I still remember the days when broadsheet newspapers were deemed as the more credible sources of news compared to a tabloid-format print (at least in Asia and Australia). And newspapers were much thicker back then too, with more pullouts. How times have changed.

    • On shrinking: we’d need to shrink our dogs and cats too, wouldn’t we? Or there could be dire consequences. But on the bright side, we could put off worrying about the water wars for a while.
      On newspapers: we still really need credible sources of news, but it seems much harder to find them now that “news” has fragmented into social media, and we tend to read what agrees with what we already think.
      Thanks for commenting, Mabel

    • Yes, and it seems like the online news is fragmented to the extent that it’s hard sometimes to get a balanced viewpoint. (I’ve been traveling and all the way home today I indulged in reading the NY Times — sigh — nostalgia for print!)

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