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Ins and outsourcing 

How about those local elected officers? Are they not very humorous? Yes indeed, it is as if they are playing out the tale of the monkey with the looking glass! Particularly that one very prominent man. Oh my, his characteristics are so amplified! Much like the fable of the tiger and the peacock, am I right?

But seriously, perhaps you are noticing that I am far more humorous than usual? Would it also please you to know that I am costing the New Times far smaller outlays? I hope that this is true that I am pleasing you, for I am the replacement of the old, costly Shredder. My name is Shredder Vindaloo. I work here in a crowded but entirely satisfactory office in Bombay for a wage that is far more reasonable than the corpulent American minimum wage earned by the former Shredder.

I believe the proprietors of this publication were inspired in this endeavor by the owner of a Web site in Pasadena, CA, which is hiring two of my countrymen, Scoop Tandoori and Bobwoodward Tikki Masala, to cover local politics. It makes such perfect sense. It puts me in mind of the tale of the nymphs and the swallow, or even the one of the ass, the stag, and the watchdog!

Do not question that this is a trend. Indeed, soon all publications in your region will be doing the same. Already, I feel deep inside that my office will be fielding calls from the Santa-Barbara News Press, where for reasons unclear to me much like the glow worm and the jackdaw no writers seem to want to work for long. As I understand it, even the book-reviewers are quitting in protest of some of the actions of owner Wendy McCaw, actions which seem to put them in mind of the fable of the pig and the sage, and yet could it not also be more akin to the tale of the fox and the villagers? Think on that indeed, dear reader.

We have many fine, fine book reviewers here in this office. Three of them are here sharing my cubicle with me at this time. Please call us, Ms. McCaw, I assure you we will be grateful, like the chicken to the cobra, for whatever wages you wish to pay. Indeed, she may need the cost efficiencies my countrymen can offer, as I understand that, in the last six months, the News-Press has lost nearly 10 percent of its readers. Ouch. Is that not like chutney in one's bidet? The San Luis Obispo Tribune's owners are also likely to soon be calling here, too, I think, as I read that the paper lost about 4 percent of its daily circulation over the past year.

It is almost as if

Okay, okay. I can take a hint. I'm not too proud to beg. So I decided that a pay cut is better than no pay at all, and I decided to swallow my pride which tastes a bit like chicken and I decided to stick around. Yeah, this is the regular Shredder. Nothing exotic about me. I'm not Shredder Cacciatore or Shredder-N-Beans or anything like that. Just plain old Shredder, much to your disappointment, I'm sure.

But you know, while I'm on the subject, I think that Vindaloo character was faking it. I hear that one of those outsourced writers reporting on local events from waaaay across the world got his journalism degree from UC Berkeley, so he probably writes better than me do. The ass, the stag, and the watchdog my ass. Most folks from India I've met learned English as their first language and have a better grasp of what's happening this week on Lost or Heroes than they do ancient folk tales. Talk about a publicity stunt.

I don't need a gimmick. I don't need some schtick to write. Just give me a keyboard, a few minutes, and a dose of caffeine. That's all it takes.

But, come to think of it, the whole "not living where you write" deal does sound pretty appealing to me. You can snipe all you want at elected officials and their assorted minions, cronies, flunkies, fakirs, and hangers-on and never worry that you're going to run into them at the grocery store or see them naked in the showers at the gym.

You'd also have a built-in excuse for not physically showing up for the ribbon-cuttings and mixers and noxious non-events this town does so well. I was excited for the first time in a long time when I got invited to the May 15 Tip-a-Cop dinner, until I learned that the night was about giving cash to law-enforcement officials not sneaking up to them while they're sleeping and pushing them over.

The whole forking over dough thing just smacked of bribery to me anyway, even though I guess they technically turned right around and gave the money to the Special Olympics. I'll keep that in mind for next time I get pulled over for speeding and try to flash some cash. "Oh, this stuff? A bribe? Ha ha! I thought you were still collecting for that wonderful charity you support so well. This is tax-deductible, right?"

But I don't want to travel to live anywhere else in the world, so maybe I can stay here and write about India. I'm sure the same principles apply. Maybe I can call my Indian counterpart back and set up sort of an exchange program. I'm sure there's a Bombay citizen's group or two trying to recall slow-growth city council members. And I'll bet my lunch that downtown Chennai independent shopkeepers are struggling with how to deal with the rise of big box stores. I wonder what the status of medicinal marijuana is over there?


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