There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Between news and opinion

I am an unabashed fan of Google. The people who work there keep coming up with ways to make information gathering easier. One Google product I use is Google Alerts. As Google explains, "Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic."

One of my standing queries is the phrase "Sacramento Regional Transit."

Google Alerts, like Google Transit, is a beta service, which means it is still in the testing stages. Certain features are lacking. Google Transit, for instance, needs a "feeling lucky" option to allow it to see Sacramento Regional Transit's wishful thinking that masquerades as transit scheduling. Google Alerts, on the other hand, needs an "ignore that" option.

The most recent Google Alert draws attention to "Disappearing Buses, Disappearing Trains, Is It a Magic Act?" which turns out to be a "News" article in the Sacramento Union.

When I first moved to Northern California in 1978, the Sacramento Union was the oldest daily in Sacramento, proud to have once employed Mark Twain. I was working in Stockton at the time, and I enjoyed watching from afar the benefits Sacramento enjoyed from having two competing daily newspapers.

The daily newspaper called the Sacramento Union died on Jan. 14, 1994. A hole in the ground exists today at the Capitol Mall address once occupied by the newspaper's offices. I'm not sure what to call the weekly free-distribution publication that today bears the name The Sacramento Union. It is certainly not a newspaper.

Google Alerts needs an "ignore that" option.

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