Work In Progress terminated

Came across this lyrical symptom of cost cutting, employee trimming and general corporate blood-letting: The writer of Work In Progress, a blog at, has voluntarily left the organisation “after [her] managing editor… announced an open invitation for buyout volunteers”.  Maybe because of my work, I found that I could very much identify with her buyout-related tribulations – finding out from HR what the package would be, then realising her union had that information and she therefore did not need to tip her hand off to HR, negotiating with her boss about said package.  Two streams of questions struck me, almost simultaneously: Stream 1 – So many do not have the fortune of being in a position to volunteer for a buyout (both in terms of the company and her financial situation allowing her to).  Stream 2 – Why did TIME invite its people to volunteer for buyouts?  How would TIME judge the success of this exercise, whatever the reason?  Was everyone invited to do this, or just a section of its staff?  If the latter, how were they chosen?  Did TIME also invite them to volunteer to go on unpaid leave or some ‘reduced hours, reduced pay’ scheme?  Stream 2.1 – Are many other hard-copy magazines doing this?  (I would expect that maybe online-only magazines would not be able to save as much doing this and so aren’t.)  And are many other newspapers doing this?  And press agencies?

Thoughts would be very welcome :)



The 9 Dec issue of the New York Times Magazine recognised screening for Alzheimer’s disease (may require registration) through a test administered on the telephone as one of the year’s best ideas. That got me thinking.

I think I first came across anything like Alzheimer’s in Dean Koontz‘s Watchers*. This was in my teens. The protagonist of the book, a dog with human-level intelligence, is stricken with distemper. His friends, a couple he essentially matchmade, are sick with worry that second-stage distemper would bring brain damage, and that the dog – his name is Einstein – would live his life in a kind of greyness, knowing that there is something missing and yet not quite knowing what it is.

I imagine Alzheimer’s to be something like that.

A few years ago, an aunt described to me the devastation Alzheimer’s wrought on her dad and her mum. He would wake up in the middle of the night in the house he built and has known for years and years and ask where he was. He would ask for the thermostat to be turned up, complaining it was freezing cold, only for his wife and daughter to see him not dressed.  Her mother struggled to take care of him and eventually – not without guilt – let others take care of him away from his home.

I imagine that, when he died, those who loved him were relieved.

I recently read a New York Times article titled “Love in the Time of Dementia”, and it opened like this:

So this, in the end, is what love is.

Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s husband, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, has a romance with another woman, and the former justice is thrilled – even visits with the new couple while they hold hands on the porch swing – because it is a relief to see her husband of 55 years so content.

I imagine that love that comes with shared experiences – mundane, intense, everyday, momentous – is a special kind of unity; even when you are alone, what you experience is shared with her, your reactions spiced and sprinkled with her own; you know her that well, and she matters that much.

*Koontz was my favourite author in my teenage years; I think Lightning, Watchers and Mr Murder are his best books.  I enjoyed how he combined the conventional elements of different genres.

Channel surfing

So I was thinking while channel-surfing between Channel U (Li Jiawei taking on a Chinese rival in the Asian Games) and one of the LOTR episodes:

Do women table tennis players (I don’t see this so much in men players) have to engage in fist-clenching grunts and exclamations after every point they win? It seems so obnoxious, so… ungracious. Does it actually help one win?

The Lord of the Rings looks much much better on a wide screen. But even on my 20-inch, the detail in each scene is captivating.

When will they adapt 金庸 classics such as 天龙八部 and the 射雕 trilogy to the big screen as multi-part, award-winning blockbusters?

The new Tiger beer ads feel so much like a rip-off of The Da Vinci Code. The atmosphere in the ads and in the movie are very similar.