Cheeseburger Gothic

Burger not so lite

Posted September 17 into House keeping by John Birmingham

At some point in the last year or two a couple of discs at the base of my spine began to fuse together. It happens. I wanted to keep up my jujitsu training and, even more importantly, I didn't want to stop doing exercise altogether. There were days when that felt like a real possibility. As the discs grew together, they trapped a couple of nerves between them causing some exciting side effects that felt at times as though one side of my body was on fire.
Anyway this is a long, roundabout way of fessing up that I really stacked on the weight. It was only partly down to physical incapacity. I did a lot of comfort eating after my dad passed away, too. I think I probably wrote about this at end of last year, when the ladies were about to take off for a couple of weeks overseas and I had plans to get to the gym every day.
I managed that. And I lost about 4 kilos. Huzzah for me. But the disc issue never really went away, and I had a couple of months off the mat and out of the gym with illness and more injury at the start of the year.
The weight came crashing back.
It's currently sitting at just over 94 kg. And that is down 2 kg from my peak.
I feel like I'm getting it back under control, however. It's the same old secret formula, exercise more/eat less; especially baked goods and red wine.
The big difference however is my back. I've been using sort of torture rack that I bought online to stretch it out at least four or five times every day, and that's made a big difference. I also got some massage done directly over the affected discs a short while ago and that was amazing. It gave me about two weeks without any pain at all. So I'll definitely be doing that again.
Unfortunately I got the massage on the beach up at Noosa and I can't be driving back and forth to use those guys again.

But there is a spinal massage specialist in my local neighbourhood, so I'm gonna give them a try.
One of the odd problems I've had is that the back stretcher is so effective that after a couple of days of using it I feel fine... and I forget to use it.
You can see where that's going.
So now, I've made the back-stretching sessions part of my work day. When I finish a pomordoro sesh (I'm routinely working 50 minute intervals now), I do a three minute spinal reset.
It seems to work.
I'd happily recommended this thing below for anyone with the same problem as me—fusing of the lower discs. But I don't think it's much good for problems further up the column. It's called a True Back.

16 Responses to ‘Burger not so lite’

Rob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 17
10 kilos down... 15 to go. I'm down to 107 kgs now. 2 day fasts per week. well its about 2500 kilojoules 2 out of 7 days. The rest of the week is just normal eating but you tend not to over do it as you're just not as hungry as you were carbing it up 7 days a week,

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 17
I suffer from gout and one of the side effects of the meds appeared to assist weight loss so I got down to 106 from 119 but now I'm back close to 115, and suffering again. I am so slack with lunch and I'm overindulging which doesn't help. I'm hoping enforced working from home for most of the week associated with an office move and refit at the end of this year will encourage me to eat better, and less, and provide time for exercise because I won't be commuting for 4 hours each day. My goal is to get into 2 figures.
On the back thing, my father suffered for years until getting some sort of electric massage pad that sits on a chair, and using it every day, and it made things a lot better.
I have a couple of bulging disks and the exercises are mainly related to improving core strength. Some of the stretches are in the opposite direction to your device as well.

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Leftarc puts forth...

Posted September 18
What's the point of a gold plated hovercraft if you can't park it on the beach whilst getting your massage?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted September 18
You make a strong case.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted September 29
We had Sea Shepard's Steve Irwin parked in Laguna Bay recently. If those dreadlocked ferals are allowed, surely uber authors are.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted September 18
Must be that time of year when thoughts turn to wearing less. I'd just done a mammoth 45 days without alcohol passing my lips then broke the seal by attending oktoberfest in Redfern on the weekend. Hoo boy what a way to break a drought. Was complaining to my mates there that clothes are starting to get tight. The days off the alcohol didn't drop weight because i found myself eating more . . and exercise had stopped over that time because my usual allotment was taken up each morning stirring a broken septic tank to stop it backing up (so the girls and the wife could have showers and use a toilet). I guess it helped with upper body strength : ) Tank getting fixed tomorrow and dogs are thanking me for the extra attention again. It feels good to get back into it though.

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John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 18
But I hate it.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 20
#sniveling

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Brother PorkChop mutters...

Posted September 19
Hows it work? I'm interested as I have a protruding disk in lower back from more than 20 years ago. Neuro at the time took an xray and said to come back in next Friday and he'd "snip it off." Frightened the shit out of me with that blase approach to my spine. Second opinion said to manage it cos after the 1st snip, the second step is fusing 2 together and then its a shitty slope to continuous pain and discomfort. I've managed it with occasional stupidity causing temporary immobilisation and considerable pain but over all its good.
Weight wise I am at 86KG, down from 92 but I cannot budge it any further. I like food too much, and red wine.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted September 19
I can't vouch fr how it will work for you, but it gives me a lot of relief WHEN i remember to use it regularly. Which reminds me...

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Bangar mutters...

Posted September 20
I've got an inversion table, but the thing to be aware of is they can induce a heart attack from the weight of the lower organs pushing on the heart.

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DarrenBloomfield is gonna tell you...

Posted September 25
What is the name/brand of the back stretcher thingy? it is exactly what I need!

And, to chip in, brag, under the guise of showing support - I'm down 10Kgs since April. More (required) to go.

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HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted September 25
mm well what can i say. Down to 80 kgs and been there for about 8 months I guess. FKN HOVERING THERE LIKE A MUTHA FKR GOD THAT I AM!!!!

Dave W mutters...

Posted September 26
I am in awe of the machine that is Havock.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted September 26
I know, right!?! Science tells us that perpetual motion machines are impossible, and yet this one seems capable of pumping out an infinite stream of bullshit!

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A year

Posted June 22 into House keeping by John Birmingham

It was the first anniversay of my dad dying, earlier this week. I took some time off to think about a few things. I called my mother, who'd gone down to Sydney to stay with my brother for a fortnight. And I worked.

I feel like I've had a pretty poor time of it the last twelve months. The poor state of my bank balance would attest to that. For a long time last year I wasn't able to do much beyond drag myself through the week, stare at the screen a lot, and grind out the weekly columns. I rarely blogged. It felt like I got nowhere with any book writing.

It still feels that way. But I was talking with a friend last night and I realised I had actually written two manuscripts in the last year. The first drafts of THE CRUEL STARS and THE GOLDEN MINUTE. I'm still chipping the last couple of chapters out of the rock face of the latter, but I am close enough to imagine typing 'The End' in the next few days. (After which I'll put it out to my beta crew).

I'm also thinking of taking the Burger back to it's origins as a simple diary of each day's work, at least for a little while. It helps to track what you're doing and it'd take the pressure off feeling the need to (ugh) generate content.

Anyway, as I said, for those up for it, the new Smith and Cady will be available in beta next week. It's looking pretty good, but it always helps to have fresh pair of eyes look over it.

15 Responses to ‘A year’

jl mutters...

Posted June 22
Looking forward to it!

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted June 23
I think time accelerates as we age. We're still doing lots of stuff but it's all a blur. Doing one or two big projects like a book leaves very few milestones of achievement to note. A diary would provide a whole bunch of interim milestones.

Always happy to help with the beta-ing.

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Bernie mumbles...

Posted June 24
It took me about a year to get over the loss of my father, then my step father up and shuffled off about 18 months later, now I have a step mom in Florida and a mum in Sydney both without the men who had been part of their lives for about a quarter of a century, I'm starting to rack up some frequent flyer miles...

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Leftarc ducks in to say...

Posted June 25
Taking the Burger back to a public diary is a good idea. Keeps you engaged, and can be used as a timeline of sorts, to track how you are going.
For what's its worth, bringing back Spartacast would be awesome. I recently had a long weekend of driving by myself (1500 kms), and listening to old episodes was like having some mates in the car to break up the monotony of the drive.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted June 25
I'd love to do that, but I can't justify the time. Those things used to chew up a day and half. Mostly from editing.

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Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted June 25
I very nearly experienced the same loss as you JB this last week - my own father has been very crook with heart and kidney issues, including a few days in ICU...its scary, cast a pall over me. I can only imagine (though I don't want to) losing him.

Very much looking forward to Smith and Cady! I too would be honoured to beta test if required.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted June 25
I'll send the invite in a couple days.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted June 25
Sorry to hear about your old man. Look after him, and yourself.

Bondiboy66 mumbles...

Posted June 26
Thanks mate - you too

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Brother PorkChop would have you know...

Posted June 26
Tough times JB. It is difficult to lose what you later realise was a really good mate. 11 years on and it's still painful but it is now a different kind of pain and in some way I do welcome it. Mainly because it makes me think of him and all the good things he added to my story. Sadly we are going through it with Mum now, with her hearing almost gone and certainly some memory lapses and I am faintly terrified about losing her. Anyways..
Happy to beta the new one as usual - something I do enjoy doing very much.

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AuntyLou would have you know...

Posted June 26
I have been missing in action for quite a long time. Apologies. My only excuse is that I am now full time carer for my Dad. I really felt your loss last year and have been trying to treat this time with Dad as a gift. It has... moments.
I don't know if I am still on your beta list. I would love to give it another go as it is hugely enjoyable but, as usual, I am juggling fibromyalgia, depression, Dad, & a long-suffering husband who is getting short shrift in all this. If you have concluded that I am unreliable/ unproductive I won't take offense to being cut.
As always, keep up the good work.

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pitpat is gonna tell you...

Posted June 27
Hey John,

I was reading some time back a click-bait/ serious article on successful people of the world. The only factoid I remember is that of the all the 'successful' traits these people had the one they had in common was that they kept on turning up. Not always at their most productive but like a bad smell in between the floorboards they were persistent. That's been my motto over the last year or so -grinding it out. Not always my best work but good enough.

But on the evidence of your last couple of alien side boobs - which I have recently subscribed to- you are producing some masterful work and I hope you continue to do so into the Aus federal election cycle. It deserves to be syndicated.

Finally thanks for a quick bit of advice you gave me on parenting about 10+ years ago via one of the comments when I was feeling very inadequate as a parent. I don't remember exactly what it was but it was enough at the right time.

Anywho got to fly. Am the boys taxi today . 10 pin bowling followed by jui jitsu training. Anyone got anautonomous car?

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Rob mumbles...

Posted June 28
I upset my son last week before I went into hospital as I got my will printed out and left it on the kitchen bench. (unsigned...but still valid) My wife thought I was being fatalistic, but I didn't want them spending money on lawyers and going through the Intestacy Act if the worst happens. Its weird being the Dad story from the other end, I could have easily become a footnote in someone else's' story.

Anyways, I'm officially not dead and decided to stop moping about things that can't or won't happen and gone back to University to study design, animation and video, since my other 2 degrees are out of date (who would have thought that Universities' would declare their only product redundant after 10 years?)

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted June 28
Enjoyed the experience last time. Was really interesting seeing the process. Happy to put my hand up again if needed (also fine to bump me from the list if you need to cull!)

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she_jedi would have you know...

Posted July 3
I was deeply startled to read it’s been a whole year since your dad passed, that’s a difficult anniversary by any measure. But congratulations on completing the Cruel Stars and the Golden Minute, those are two big achievements on top of persisting with the Boob and your columns for Fairfax, you have much to be proud of, even if it’s not hugely apparent just at the moment xx

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ASB extracts

Posted January 15 into House keeping by John Birmingham

I've been meaning to spool up the Burger again, and have decided to run a few old bits from Alien Side Boob here this week as a subscriber drive, and a way of reminding myself to come here every day and fucking post something.

I had a Hell of a time of it last year, and the Burger suffered for it. I'm hoping and planning to be a lot more productive in 2018 and it'd be nice to get the clubhouse repainted and a couple of freshly stuffed beanbags here and there to spruce the place up.

Last week I submitted the first draft of THE CRUEL STARS to Random House, or Random Penguins as they now are, I guess. Or maybe Penguin House. This week, I'm having a planning session to lay out my deadlines and get all my various workflows in balance. Item one: take fewer media commissions, do more book writing.

I'm not sure yet how to program regular blogging time in the schedule, but that's part of what I need to work out.

5 Responses to ‘ASB extracts’

w from brisbane mumbles...

Posted January 15
JB, if you do find the time, some more Burger blogs would be enjoyed. They are a delight,

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted January 16
the burger is a good spot to chew the fat in between books.

jl reckons...

Posted January 16
Agreed.

Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted January 17
True dat. I'm a simple person with simple social media needs. Just drop us a little taste every now and then.

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Barnesm has opinions thus...

Posted January 18
'Random Penguins' at least you aren't involved with angry penguins, didn't work out well for that other Australian writer.

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The Next Year Here

Posted March 7, 2017 into House keeping by John Birmingham

I think I've figured out what I'm going to do with the Burger, for the next twelve months or so, anyway. I've been feeling guilty and anxious about the amount of time I'm not putting in here. So guilty and anxious that worrying about it has been taking up even more time and energy than simply posting would have.
It's all down to time and energy, and how much I don't have any more. Family commitments aside, without the safety net of big publisher advances I have to earn every dollar that comes in. The last 12 months have proven I can do that, but it's hard work. Good work, and fun, but hard. I'm looking at my whiteboard right now, where I have my major projects for the year listed. All of them 100 000 word novels.
The Cruel Stars.
World War 3.1
The Golden Minute. (The sequel to A Girl in Time).
Sleeper Agent. (A conventional thriller).
Stronghold. (Dave Hooper 4)
In addition to this, I have my remaining media commitments and my new investment in Alien Side Boob. That turns out to be a lot of work, writing a private column to a standard that people are willing to pay for. There's also the fanfic collections, a couple of collaborative projects I'd like to work on, and a screenplay for A Girl in Time.
It doesn't leave a lot of time left over from blogging. And yet I'm not willing to simply close down the Burger. As I explained in a comment in the entry below, I trust this place and the people here in a way that I don't trust, say, my 3000 closest friends on Facebook. I can put out a call for beta readers here and know that the manuscript isn't going to turn up on BitTorrent 24 hours later.
But I don't have time to run a full service blog any more. Not for the next 12 months anyway, while I get my indie publishing business up to full speed. Last year was just proving the concept.
So what I've decided to do is keep the Burger open, but basically as a link blog. Mondays Tuesdays and Fridays I'll put up a link to and an extract from whatever column I have written that day. That will mostly be it. I won't be writing book reviews or movie reviews or even personal entries unless something really strikes me. I just don't have time. As more of the fanfic entries come in, I will publish extracts from them. And as my own books come due for release, I'll drop sample chapters here, but also at Medium, FB etc.
That should be enough to keep the place ticking over, but not so time-consuming that I hesitate to even open the page.

18 Responses to ‘The Next Year Here’

Bangar has opinions thus...

Posted March 7, 2017
Food on the table is what's important, you've been more than indulgant with us fans/friends and we appreciate it. Your work and time has to pay for itself in a timely fashion. So continue as you think is best. Bangar

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sharky has opinions thus...

Posted March 7, 2017
Well done JB,
What a truly Solomon like compromise.
perhaps there could be a way for Burgers to submit a link or article to help keep the place ticking over???

Cheers

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Halwes asserts...

Posted March 7, 2017
I don't surf the net much and was initially drawn to CBG because I'd reread Falafel and wanted to find out what else you were doing. My point being that without CBG I probably wouldn't have known about much of your other work nor been drawn to it. I've read five of your books that I wouldn't have probably even known about without CBG. I have always read your newspaper stuff and enjoyed it immensely. I'm loving ASB because it's so much more irreverent than you'd be allowed to be in a mainstream newspaper. I think that CBG may play more of a role in your book sales than you imagine however I fully understand how much work it must be to maintain.

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jl has opinions thus...

Posted March 8, 2017
500k words is a whopping big chunk. I've written 290k over a four year period and I thought that was a lot- young grasshopper bows to the master!

Think of us here at the 'Burger as your backbench- if there is a tough nut to crack, just holler and we will produce.

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Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 8, 2017
Decommissioned and froze The Pondering Tree years ago. It was simply proving to be too much of a time sink. Where it once seemed to be at the intersection of the internet it now feels like a backwater bypassed by other social media services.


I do far more networking and market research using FB, as well as building a potential fan base. Something I was never quite able to do with The Pondering Tree.


It is what it is.

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she_jedi asserts...

Posted March 8, 2017
I think you've hit on the best strategy; you've invested a heap of time and energy into building the burger into the trusted community it is, and it would be a shame to mothball it. Leverage the best elements of the community you've built here (the beta readers, word of mouth referees for new works via sample chapters, fanthology contributors) and focus on the things that we chose to stick around for - 'splosions, occasional monsters, time travel and thinky, and more 'splosions. If I had my druthers I'd rather have Burger Lite and get 5 new JB novels this year :)

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Surtac mumbles...

Posted March 8, 2017
Sounds like a sensible plan to me.

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Oldy has opinions thus...

Posted March 8, 2017
Ditto she_jedi.

Between FB, ASB and the Instrument I'm getting bulk JB updates. And that's a big whack of work you've got ahead of you. Blogging on top of that, other than announcements and shit, is a big overhead (oh wait, you said that already).

Blah blah support blah blah focus blah blah on your team*





*Millennial members: just substitute # for blah blah...

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Gutz mutters...

Posted March 8, 2017
Hey, whatever keeps fuel in the hovercraft!

Plus i am lazy, i have found your books and this place...i am in no great rush to go anywhere else. i have even managed to bookmark so it saves me some carpal-tunnel.

If you build it we will come. no wait..we are already here...um..

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Bondiboy66 has opinions thus...

Posted March 8, 2017
Set on 'idle' is good. Its easy to increase revs if required.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted March 8, 2017
as long as you don't let havoc get a hold of the keys to the burger it should be here when and if you want to get back to it.

HAVOCK21 has opinions thus...

Posted March 15, 2017
OI FKN. Thats prolly the best FKN IDEA I HAVE HEARD ALL FKN DAY!

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Don Bagert swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 9, 2017
Thank you, John. Best wishes to you, and I'm glad that WW 3.1 is high up on the list!

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Dave C mutters...

Posted March 9, 2017
Burger lite sounds good. Do what you need to do to get those awesome new stories out, JB.

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Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted March 9, 2017
Sounds like a plan.

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jason would have you know...

Posted March 9, 2017
Just did a quick bit of project management for you. 500,000 words worth of novels, plus columns (let's call that 50,000 words). You have two options, stretch time (which comes with it's own issues) or buy at least two coffee machines.

Tough schedule.

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NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 11, 2017
Do what you've gotta do.
It's been a hoot.


(Greybeard smells like old newspapers.)

NBlob reckons...

Posted March 12, 2017
Silence = assent

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The long, slow dying of news

Posted March 18, 2016 into House keeping by John Birmingham

I realised yesterday, with a strange, contrary mix of emotions, that I now have more people subscribed to my book club than Fairfax has journalists on its payroll. A lot more, actually. The latest round of layoffs, another 120 jobs to go out of an already shrunken newsroom would have landed as a heavy blow in Sydney and Melbourne. I have no idea what effect the cuts will have in Brisbane, but I can’t imagine we’ll dodge the bullet again. It’s not just the newsroom, of course, the freelance budget has also been slashed. You can expect a lot more opinion pieces on the op-ed page to be written by politicians, lobbyists and the various urgers and bagmen pimping for vested interests and what they used to call in the 1930s “the money power”.

My Saturday morning column in the Herald was cut two weeks ago, although there was no announcement made. Wendy Harmer spilled the beans when they gave her the arse as well. It was gratifying to be a trending topic for a couple of hours as readers vented their anger, and then moved on to the next outrage-of-the-moment. As the media world contracts, I can feel my own acceleration away from it gathering pace. This has been coming for years, and I’ve been preparing for it for a long while now, but of course doing everything it just the right moment is a matter of timing.

I sat down to do some schedule planning yesterday morning, before the Fairfax announcement, looking at which books would be finished when, and even more importantly at what point they might start turning a profit if they’re ever going to. It looks like Cairo should be ready for distribution to bookclub members by mid April. It’ll be free and exclusive at jbismymasternow.com before dropping into the online retailers. But it’s not really meant to make money directly, simply to drive subscriptions to that mailing list.

The first real pay day comes with the launch of the two Hooper ebooks, A Protocol for Monsters, and A Soul Full of Guns, most likely on May 30. Given the way ebook payments work, I’ll probably see a return from them in September. Before then, of course, I have to cover the costs of production from my own pocket. Each novella length title, averaging 30-35K words, costs about two grand to drop into the channel. Stronghold, the first full length novel I’ll publish myself will probably top out at $3K+.

I have no idea what happens next at Fairfax, or whether I’ll have any part to play in it but I’m pretty sure that ten years from now my media commitments will be zero.

That’s why I’m sucking up the pain of building an independent income stream through my own ebook line. It is painful and difficult to do while managing the collapsing business models of old school media and book publishing, but the prospects for turning it into a sustainable business are a lot better than simply sitting in place and wishing for the best.

I’ve been pondering where the Burger sits in all this. It doesn’t have the firepower of Twitter or Facebook for channelling traffic and generating sales, but it does have a role to play. It’s a kind of complicated role, actually. In one sense it’s a simply place to retreat, like the bar in Cheers where everybody knows your name. We have a lot of social capital invested here, a lot of trust built up. That’s why I’m comfortable calling for Beta readers here, for instance, but nowhere else. If I did the same thing anywhere but the Burger, I am certain the raw drafts of those ebooks would be in the wild within days.

The Burger also gives me somewhere to write things that need more than 140 characters, on topics that would make most readers outside this joint scratch their heads. The people who follow me in the wider realm of social media have no interest in discussing things like naval strategy or a submarine program – not unless it’s to complain about all the kindergartens you buy for the cost of a Collins boat.

Finally, the blog can and does work to build the mailing list and provide a place for me to sell books directly, or at least via associate links to collect a little extra cream off the cover price. I’m talking to Dan about redesigning the site to foreground this stuff in the near future. He’s done yeoman’s work in the background getting a store set up. I’m not ready to cut the ribbon yet but for anyone interested you can have a look here.

36 Responses to ‘The long, slow dying of news’

Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted March 18, 2016
I am saddened, and angered by the latest cuts at Fairfax. Also bewildered - it's as if they don't want my money. Really, really, really don't want it. I'm an old-school person who WANTS to pay for my media, and they're doing everything possible to turn their product into something nobody would want to shell out for.

Dave W mumbles...

Posted March 18, 2016
Ditto that, Lulu.
I actually subscribed BECAUSE I think that if I want real news, I should be prepared to pay for it- in the same way that when I wanted real news back in the good ol' days, I was prepared to go to a newsagency and, y'know, buy a newspaper.
And yep, cuts mean that I look at the byline and decide whether I'll read it based on whether the author is a vested interest on it.
BTW- the bookshelf looks nice and shiny, look forward to seeing the giant novelty scissors come out on grand opening day.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted March 18, 2016
The bookshelf does indeed look shiny, but who is the figure in the favicon? I only ask because it looks like it has hair.

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Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 18, 2016
I'd say the Burger's primary role is to serve as the focal point for all of your other efforts. Those who become greater fans will eventually come here to the Burger to see what is going on.

One thing that might help in that vein might be to have more discussion topics, maybe one or two a week, on the type of things we used to discuss years ago. I think the Alternate 707 thread is a pretty good example of how that type of thread can be entertaining and useful.


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Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted March 18, 2016
We get the media we are willing to pay for. Internet Utopians like Tim O'Reilly keep telling us that there is a business model - but there isn't.
The destruction of all that middle class income has just made a few people who live in office parks south of San Francisco rich.
Silicon Valley convinced everyone that "information wants to be free" - but real knowledge is expensive, and wisdom is priceless. Get people hooked on piracy and convince them that intellectual property is worthless. By the time the house of cards collapses, they won't notice that their sources of information are about as reliable as the water sources around Flint, Michigan.
The near future is an endless stream of interns generating click bait and calling themselves journalists. It's a short future - those interns will be let go and their job replaced by software that can do the same thing for essentially no income. The audience is used to pap without substance, and a machine can do that better than any grizzled veterans of the fourth estate.

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 18, 2016
I tried to argue on Stross's blog that the problem is the passionate belief in one's convictions and the willingness to do anything in their name, even kill. Some there admired this quality even in their ideological enemies. I got redcarded for my troubles, but that is by and by.
I still think you tend to the extreme on this issue (but are a pretty good egg from most directions otherwise). I think you have called me a pirate for saying I wouldn't be watching something, and therefore didn't want to pay for it. I think you leave rationalism behind on this issue every time you say anything about it.

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AKM. ducks in to say...

Posted March 18, 2016
I have to say I am enjoying watching your evolution and adventures, from up here in the nosebleed section of the stands- you are giving great insights into the process for us mug punters. Thanks.

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pi ducks in to say...

Posted March 18, 2016
We get The Age delivered for us on weekends, and have the electronic subscription. It's both good and bad that there's still a fair way to go before they reach the complete bottom.

I wish I knew of a solution to this problem. Hoping that people will pay their fair share doesn't seem to be working.

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DarrenBloomfield mutters...

Posted March 18, 2016
your books brought me to the burger (url printed inside the weapons of choice books??) And Twitter entrenched me here. Along with the content. I like the expansive nature of the topics, it does kind of feel like Cheers. Can I be Cliff? I also like that it doesn;t try (too hard) to sell me stuff. I mean, I buy it anyway, but like that this isn't an explicit retail space. I understand the need to do both of course, but don't overegg it I suppose.
Re fairfax. I'm sorry - and this won't be a popular view here - but the Age is a bad newspaper, full stop. And its now in a self perpetuating death spiral. Falling subscriber base because the content isn't very good - leading to poorer content, leading to ...
Life is going to be very tough for all trad media I suspect. But The Age's problems aren't exclusively because of that.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted March 18, 2016
The Fairfax papers will disappear within two or three years I'd say. Newscorp will gloat but their rags won't be too far behind as most newspapers get online and behind paywalls.They might do a 'print to order' premium subscription service for those who can't give up the fish wrappers. How many journos will they need? Less than they have now, because no-one will really be breaking stories; pounding leather on pavement, working the phones, hitting the pub after filing copy. Heaps easier to mine social media and lift things from other sites. Tricksy, thinky columnists and their damn hovercraft addictions won't be welcome because they want proper money. 'Interns' can be bought cheap.

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JBtoo is gonna tell you...

Posted March 18, 2016
This has been happening to the Fairfax rural and regional papers over the last two years. It breaks my heart to see the travesty that my local paper has become - it used to be a genuine community resource, providing information that wasn't covered by anyone else - and it was profitable! But in the brave new world of Fairfax, one size fits all. Our editorial staff has been halved and they have stopped publishing circulation figures. Meanwhile we are bombarded by daily emails from Sydney-based execs on 6-figure salaries telling us how great life is and how the company CAREs.My position was made redundant last November. Local managers, finally recognising disaster, have worked around the Sydney rules to extend me to the end of Jan, the end of Feb, the end of April...There aren't a lot of employment options in the regions, so what do you do? Well I'm moving to real estate marketing, because, you know, mortgage.


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Duce mutters...

Posted March 18, 2016
I've been writing UFC content for BT, for free, for about a year now. I thought I was playing the long con, doing it for free in the hope that eventually UFC would reach critical mass and Fairfax would need someone with the base knowledge to cover it, so hell why not throw some cash at the guy doing it for free already?
Well, I guess I can throw that idea out the window. Which is a shame, because everyone I deal with at BT is a pleasure to work with and they do really go out of their way to accommodate my yarns. I doubt I'll stop doing it any time soon, but if there's not going to be any long-term payoff - and given recent events, that seems extremely doubtful - I'm not sure it's worth it to just keep on plugging away.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted March 19, 2016
I am regular reader of your work, Duce. In fact I'll take some credit for it, having suggested many years ago that we should get some specialist bloggers in. I did also suggest, however THAT THEY GET PAID.

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jennicki mutters...

Posted March 18, 2016
This makes me so sad.
I subscribe to BT way over here because it helps keep my husband in contact with the local news back home.
It's worrisome and sad for the future of writers.
They did the same staff cuts here at our local newspaper a few years ago. They raised the price if subscriptions but now you can only get your paper delivered twice a week, and most of the op-eds have been outsourced from the national newspaper. The loss of community is deeply felt.
As for publishing, I fear for new writers trying to get on their feet. I've been getting serious about working on my books, and they may never have the opportunity to see the light of day. I know I'm not alone in this.
To put it simply: it sucks.

Murphy_of_Missouri puts forth...

Posted March 19, 2016
Pretty much what happened here in the States about twenty years ago. The last of the freelance newspaper stuff dried up right about as I left grad school.

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NBlob asserts...

Posted March 18, 2016
1. Lots. You can buy lots of kindergartens, you can change the student : teacher ratios, you could keep open the early intervention for disabled kids schools, for the price of one Collins II.
2. I believe, with very little evidence, that people do want quality journalism. Not the finger-pointing hyperbolic crap of ACA, but real quality long form work. The person who works out a means of extracting $ for it will replace Rupert as media mogul to the Nth power.
3. I expect as content producers seek leaner production models, the quality will fall to a point where an appreciable % are prepared to pay.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted March 19, 2016
Re. No1. Or you could force multinational corporations to pay their tax and you could have all the things.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted March 19, 2016
Curse of the BYT.
Regardless of the structure, system, rules or codes, those with assets with employ throngs of Bright Young Things to find the loopholes.
For so long as they are more worried by the shareholders than the local plod it shall remain so.

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Jevon Kasitch puts forth...

Posted March 19, 2016
The regional newspapers here in the US have been suffering the same decline. You can watch the rot work it's way up from the smallest towns, to the small cities, and eventually to the huge ones. Staffs cut, pages cut, content becoming Press releases, AP wire copy, and advertisements. Local TV is still doing real reporting on Things That Matter but even that is mixed with a swirl of infotainment that is hard to stomach.
My own boss used to write a chess column for the local paper (he'd done it for 20 years) and he was cut three years back as 'too expensive', they were kind enough to tell him they would still be thrilled to publish his column for free though. So thoughtful!
So I feel what you have gone through.
On the topic of what CBG is for; It's your hub. The media platform closest to you that YOU control 100%. You can use it to build a community, to test ideas, to vent writing that you need to get out to an audience for feedback, to inform us of projects and so on. Warren Ellis covered this ground about a decade back with his 'Engine' site, and very convincingly made a case as to why it's a valuable thing for a self-publishing free lance writer to have. If only for the continued ability to directly speak to ones readers with no one else getting between you. A priceless thing.
I also think it's fantastic that you are investing in your own e-Book distribution network. Though pricy, in the long run I think it will prove profitable to you. It will allow you to get your media out with no idiocy regarding zones, and so forth. Again, priceless. It's work, but it's work for yourself that will pay.
As a reader, and a fan, I appreciate that I can directly get your work from you, and know you get the majority of the cash from me. And that I might even be heard if I have a comment or idea that touches on something you ask about.
Onwards into that brave new future. (In the 70's they promised me a flying car, robot butler who'd make me dinner, and vacations to the moon. Instead I got the internet and more porn at my fingertips then I could ever view. Ah human priorities.....)

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 19, 2016
Thanks Jevon. Thoughtful comments and I appreciate your taking the time. I'm going to dig up this Ellis pieces because I find him to be very wise in these matters.

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DarrenBloomfield mumbles...

Posted March 19, 2016
Newspapers are like beer. Thirty years ago I drank Cascade because I lived in Tasmania. In fact I drank Cascade because I was in southern Tasmania (north of Campbelltown they drank Boags. Like some kind of Neanderthals. I bought and read The Mercury, and they The Examiner (north) and Advocate (NW) for the same reason.
Same all over the country. Now I have a range of global tastes and styles at my fingertips. NY times? Why not. Heinekin. Sure. Nine Heinekin and I'm maybe going to download a little illicit newscorp...

All I'm saying is that exposure to the world has expanded choice, and a preference for quality ( or quality adjusted price) will overcome parochialism at some stage. Be it beer, news, movies, white goods, cars, and the list goes on. Painful? Of course, and I'm not trivialising the job losses. But choice is good.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted March 20, 2016
This is a very strong point. I subscribe to the NYT. I don't subscribe to any other news sources.

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GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted March 20, 2016
I'm taking a short break from marking New Media reports my 16 yr. old students have submitted - most on powerpoint, a few on prezi and a Weebly website blog on the hot topic of how changes to production, distribution and consumption of media content has changed the industry and the society we all inhabit.

I take a long view on these changes encouraging them to investigate a chosen media form, such as print, cinema and television and track the technological changes over the past century to the present - linking the use of these media to significant historical events such as Goebbels Nazi propaganda via radio, print and cinema on the German people, televisions portrayal of the Vietnam War, Armstrong on the Moon, Tiananmen Square and 9/11.

They have grown up in a world where the internet, (of most things) is as ubiquitous as electricity and running water - social media for them is a natural way of life - getting everything they want from an app. is the norm and most importantly paying nothing for everything is to be expected.

I agree with those who say quality media content will win out - but the challenge nee problem, is that quality means commitment and commitment means time which equals cost in $.

Sadly most media outlets today don't want to invest in the cost of commiting human resources to generating valuable content, especially when another outlet or oligarthic search and engulf engine simply posts a link for free, thus rendering the intrinsic value of the original content zero bytes.

I don't like The Age anymore - I haven't for a long-time - I used to belong to CineTopia, before I discovered Cheese Country, but something in the way it was being shafted and its eventual demise heralded more problems to come.

My wife always used to complain about my stacks of papers that I used to say I was getting around to scrapbooking articles that I'd like, not any more - not for ages. I don't like it for its format, I don't like it for editorials, I don't like Paul Sheehan and his ugly Sydney-view of world affairs - mostly I don't like Fairfax because it has tried to follow the path of NewsCorpse - adopting policies and styles that were once an anathema to its readers and subscribers and its workforce of journalists, oh no sorry content providers.

The managment of Fairfax should ask themselves how is that Guardian Australia appears to be flourishing in this market - what are they doing right to attract a readership?

Think long and hard about that one Fairfax and you might win me back - you've lost my students though, they don't get anything from metropolitan dailies - in fact you never had them in the first place.

And finally we've all heard how the Oz branch of NewsCorpse looses money hand over fist compared to its overseas operations - will that continue under new, younger management whenever Rupe vacates the penthouse - I know that they don't pay tax but does anyone think Head Orifice will continue to the fund the likes of Chris Kenny and Paul Murray ... god I hope not.

Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2016
"I used to belong to CineTopia, <snip> but
something in the way it was being shafted and its eventual demise"

Oh, hai! <waves> Me too. I still miss it.

GhostSwirv is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2016
I miss our fellow CineTopians - some of whom have found salvation amidst the burgers - I don't the snark.

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jason is gonna tell you...

Posted March 21, 2016
As far as the role of The Burger goes. I started reading your books a while ago. Just another author I liked (no offence) then I started reading The Burger and taking part in the conversations. I now feel like the guy who got to go backstage and hang with the band. I know when the records are coming out and I cant wait to get them on the turntable. They also mean a lot more as I understand more of the process and the inside story. I now have an allegiance to JB (as noted in me signing my soul over to him recently).

I also have a suggestion. I am happy to pre pay for my books (possibly at a slightly discounted rate). You use the cash to keep the gold plated hovercraft fueled up and send me the book when it is finished. Your costs are covered and the post publication sales are all gravy.

insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2016
I wouldn't be averse to going down that road.

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2016
This Jason chap, he has ideas. May be worth inviting him to one of the Map Room meetings.

jason mumbles...

Posted March 22, 2016
Jason has many ideas but no knowledge of what a map room is or any real idea about how to use (doesn't even know the name of the thing he is typing in to) this chat thingy.

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madmaximus swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 21, 2016
Hi JohnKeep up the Burger, it's good stuff. I got here through the blurb in one of your books quite some time ago. I live in Victoria but read your BT articles (hopefully the page hits help!) and enjoy the stuff you post here.I also order your books through whatever link you recommend here, so hopefully you get some financial value out of it. I also believe that writers should be paid and tire of the terrible free amateur content and PR written rubbish that is sucking away professional journalism and writing.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 22, 2016
Thanks Max. It's always nice to know I'm not just typing into the abyss.

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Abe Frellman has opinions thus...

Posted March 22, 2016
My oldest started a writing degree this year. She wants to be an editor or publisher, which makes me a little nervous for her long term job prospects. But how the hell would I know what sort of jobs will exist for the next forty years - weren't accountants meant to be replaced by computers by now anyway? What I ended up saying to her was this:1. Being able to write well is a great skill to have. I've been with my current employer for over a decade and I have noticed that the writing standards have fallen over time. Each year we lose one or two old hands who write beautifully and replace them with youngsters who, well, don't. So there is a scarcity value attached to it. Or there should be.2. As an employer, I find it easier to teach and explain the finer points of what we do than how to write. If you can work out how to write by induction when your paper comes back from me covered in red ink, great, but I'll never feel comfortable standing up at a whiteboard in front of a new cohort explaining how to write, while I'd happily do that every day if the subject matter was our raisin deeter. Case in point, I nearly hired a music graduate who could write well over a maths grad who couldn't, but the rest of the panel wouldn't have it. (Sausage making requires a remarkable level of numeracy by the way.)3. Book publishing and newspapers may not exist in even ten years in the way we understand them today and the technology will mean that suddenly everyone who thinks they have a book in them can e-publish it for less than they'd spend on a dirty weekend at Byron Bay. Regardless of the fact that said e-book only cost them a dollar, readers will still need a way of filtering the crap from the good stuff, as their time is limited. So maybe there will still be a market for editing all of this content. Maybe even good freelance editors will get a name for themselves and a following; who knows?4. You're the oldest and your youngest sibling is 11. Plus you don't eat much and occasionally help around the house. So don't sweat it too much if you're still here in ten years. But here's the thing, while you're here, could you help me convince your brother and sister to do a trade like plumbing? People are always going to need to shit.

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Rob mumbles...

Posted March 22, 2016


The burger is the only forum I like (just the right amount of smarts and snark) and it inspired me to try my own blog, which has been fun. (writing what I want to read is my mantra and TV I want to watch on my channel) and the burger and JB rescued my art practice.

I did harbor thoughts of being a journalist, but by the time I got to Uni that had dried up, my sister is working still in London as an editor but its for a corporation not a paper. She's been made redundant a few times and done well out of it. But I think newspapers owners will have to fight to stay alive, google has devoured the advertising streams, and the internet has killed Saturday classified advertising, but at what price? Google has become a massive anti competitive competitor, if it wins, we (as society) are the losers. We will have lost the professional filter.

An artist who makes art but doesn't sell it and/or is not held in esteem, is not an artist. I truly believe you need to sell and earn to give it the quality and kudos it deserves.

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JG would have you know...

Posted March 22, 2016
Sorry to hear about the latest cuts at Fairfax, and the loss of your weekly Sat column from the Herald, JB. It's a shame that so many journalists, sub editors, photographers, and freelancers are (or will be) out of work.

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Hewy asserts...

Posted March 23, 2016
No real surprise regarding Fairfax job losses.They've painted themselves into a corner where they are courting the same audience as a massively funded public broadcaster on one side and a cashed up (i.e. loss covering) trust on the other side (Guardian).There was only one result possible there, and we're seeing it.
Still, keep up the insightful posts on the publishing industry, JB. Always great to read. Best of luck building a Publishing 3.0 business model.

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Dirk asserts...

Posted March 25, 2016
Yes the times of paper in journalism are fading helas. You might consider this though: https://blendle.com . It works on a Itunes music model but then for written pieces. It's online here now for 18 months and business is booming. They are doing a beta now in the US so it will go global.

Nice thing you are doing about "tha shoppe" ... in a version 2 i would go for a few second tier shops also (Bol.com- you are sold there too now https://www.bol.com/nl/c/algemeen/john-birmingham/257194/index.html?lastId=2540 - in the Netherlands - you'll need a dutch bankaccount for it though, or one of these http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/avoiding-amazon-the-5-best-alternatives-to-the-online-bookseller-giants-10458698.html ) but i think for now you have the bases covered.

And the distribution of your own ebooks (or signed copies of the paper kind) is also an option. Cut out the middle man so to say. I'm working with a friend of mine here who does the latter.

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Respond to 'The long, slow dying of news'

Wrote four columns today

Posted February 15, 2016 into House keeping by John Birmingham

I probably shoudn't have done that. I probably should have written the second last chapter of Cairo instead. But they backed a truckload of money up to my door.

What could I do?

*tears our last of hair, rends sack cloth*

WHAT COULD I DOOOOO?

15 Responses to ‘Wrote four columns today’

Sudragon would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2016
Well, now you can afford sackcloth with a higher thread count.

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Dirk has opinions thus...

Posted February 15, 2016
And leave us in agony waiting? Wasn't valentinesday yesterday torture enough? :)

AuntyLou would have you know...

Posted February 15, 2016
Being patient...*weeps silently*

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LeSyp puts forth...

Posted February 15, 2016
Yeah, but the article you wrote in The Age about Brownless and Lyons was effin' awesome. Poignant, and to the point. And hopefully read widely before the tabloid media goes into full saw-toothed sado-orgasmic meltdown over this (as you so succinctly put it) septic mess. Whilst they are media personalities, and part of the social contract of fame is for disection of one's personal life, I feel deeply sorry for all involved, as their individual and collective hurt will not be any less. Because after all, they are still just fallible humans like you and me.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 16, 2016
That was a hard one.

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted February 16, 2016
You do know that its entirely possible that the second in line to the throne may be waiting on you for his next set of adventures?

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted February 16, 2016
If you delayed writing the second last chapter, does that mean you haven't written the last chapter either?

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted February 16, 2016
You could always ask the aliens to help you out. Warney seems to be on top of it. : )

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 16, 2016
Write five columns in one day and you will impress me.

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted February 16, 2016
Have a drink and reconsider all of the choices you have made over the course of your life?

GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 16, 2016
Is that one drink per choice and how far back should one start the drinking?

Just asking for a friend I once chose to hang out with.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted February 16, 2016
Difficult question to answer. Some choices require more than one drink. Sometimes many more than one. For example, my decision to approach a southern cassowary (big emu, right mate?) to pet it on its head. Five drink minimum just to compensate for the social embarrassment associated from running from a giant predatory chicken while screaming like a little girl. That thing wanted to kill me.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted February 16, 2016
I was once attacked by a peacock while trying to take one of his non-predatory chicken girlfriends for fresh egg purposes. Blood was drawn but I still got the girl.

ShaneAlpha puts forth...

Posted February 16, 2016
I have a theory that Cassowary's are the only birds that remember being dinosaurs, and they are really pissed that they aren't giant lizards any more.
It would explain their penchant for kicking the shit out of absolutely everything.

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Nocturnalist would have you know...

Posted February 16, 2016
I'll send you my address. Next time the cash truck backs up you can redirect it down here and get on with your work in peace.

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