Model Railroader mag -- observations and quesions

Not a troll, just some observations, and a question or two.
Last month I received a mailer from Kalmbach with an offer or a "free
issue" of MR. The offer was supposedly extended to former subscribers. I had subscribed to MR from 1972 through about 2000 and due to budget issues let MR lapse while keeping up Railroad Model Craftsman and the Gazette.
I sent in the postcard out of curiosity. The "free issue", labeled December, 2005, arrived yesterday.
One of the things I used to like about MR was the list of club open houses at this time of year. Its mostly gone, unless he organization pays an ad fee. Funny way to grow the hobby.
Rest of the content, compared to 5 or 7 years ago, was disappointing at best. he produc reviews are for what are essentially toy.
The articles, excepting the DCC article, were just plain poor.
Is it just me?
What happenned to MR?
--
Jim McLaughlin

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On Wed, 26 Oct 2005 17:37:35 -0700, "Jim McLaughlin" <jim.mclaughlin> wrote:

Economic pressures, publishers aren't immune either.

I only occasionally pick up a copy from the magazine rack, but so far, it hasn't been too bad, I'd say fairly good. I'd be hesitant to judge them on one issue. They've also published a special, on modelling the '50s, excellent and accurate. Nothing there I'd say "toy" to.

I'd blame the writers rather than the publisher. They publish what the writers write. Seems to work better that way. Haven't seen the Dec issue yet, should come up pretty soon, but with my penchant for the KISS principle, sounds like there might be nothing in it I want.
Or, maybe there is.

Depends on what you're interested in. I could care less about the latest kilobuck brass or superdetailing a specific engine of a specific road, I'm more interested in trying to reproduce a particular "feel" of a time period at least halfway accurately. Different strokes for different folks.

Hasn't changed much that I can see.
Rich
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writers write.<
Actually in the case of MR that's not true. All the articles they get are totally rewritten by their editors for "same-ness"! Other magazines such as Craftmans do little editing to the authors input. It's one reason _some_ authors will not write for MR.

best<
I think some people just outgrown MR. If someone gets into the hobby and starts getting really serious about it they learn much in 5 to 7 years. MR is written for mostly a lower lever or entry level (not all but mostly). This is why you seem to think it's changed. It hasn't but probably you have<VBG>.

This tends to indicate you have changed as I regard these magazines a few steps above entry level articles with the Gazette maybe being many steps above entry level.
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Jon Miller wrote:

"Actually in the case of MR that's not true. All the articles they get
are totally rewritten by their editors for "same-ness"! Other magazines such as Craftmans do little editing to the authors input. It's one reason _some_ authors will not write for MR."
Yes it is. At first when I heard about it it pissed me off. Then I realized it's not too bad of a thing.
Since they re-write your article is basically an outline and isn't recognizable. Therefore you can then sell the article to another publisher. :-)

best<
"I think some people just outgrown MR. If someone gets into the hobby and starts getting really serious about it they learn much in 5 to 7 years. MR is written for mostly a lower lever or entry level (not all but mostly). This is why you seem to think it's changed. It hasn't but probably you
have<VBG>. "
I think they have changed.
There used to be a better mix of newbie and intermediate and even some advanced articles.
Now it's degraded toward being pritnear all newbie all the time.
Eric
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Eric Escribbled:

Model Railroader has been in a steady decline in both content and value since the day Russ Larson took the helm. "Model Railroader" is the "Cosmopolitan" of hobby mags, or if you prefer, the haughty, senile, arrogant, geriatric "Dowager Queen" of Hobby mags, jam-packed full of glitz and flash, but almost completely lacking in any substance whatever; in short, practically worthless.
Once the advertisers quit advertising- and many of the ones that interest me already have- I'm hosed. I only use the thing as a guide to find people who have things for sale that I want to buy. I don't actually buy a copy any more until i have looked through the ads to see if there is anything interesting for sale. Now, if I could subscribe to a magazine that had minimal modeling content (i.e., articles) but that was heavy on model advertising, I might do that.
Some while ago there was a spoof of MR that got passed around on this board. I thought it was quite humorous, and quite true as well. ( Can you say "quite" true. or is true an absolute word that cannot be modified? Do you have to simply just say "true"?) Anyway, some of the articles listed on the cover, which featured a photo of the best-known resident of the Island of Sodor, were:
"Thomas: Are we getting too realistic?"
"Placing cars on the track made easy."
"Opening packaging."
"How to purchase model trains."
Laugh, but this is the direction in which Kalmbach, Larson and "Model Railroader" are heading pell-mell.
If your interest in model railroading extends beyond occasionally dropping into the basement during the winter months of the year to blow the dust and cobwebs off the equipment and play with it for a few minutes, then you need a better hobby mag than anything Kalmbach publishes. Mainline Modeler is one, Rail Model Journal is another, and Railroad Model Craftsman is a third. RMJ is a bit rough around the edges, but that is part of its charm.
Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

About a year and a half ago, at the LSR convention, Charlie Getz from Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette gave a talk about the hobby. He talked some about the various MRR magazines. IIRC, he mentioned that MR's circulation is about 2-3X that of RMC, the #2 magazine in circulation. The circulation is perhaps 5-6 times as much as NG&SLG and the other magazines mentioned. MR must be doing something right. OTOH Microslut is #1 too, and god only knows why.
--

Rick Jones
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That does not mean that they are doing the perfectly right thing. It only means that habit and inertia is currently working in their favor. They also have a "catchy" name, which helps. Railroad Model Craftsman had a long, rough spell after Tony Koester left. That was Carstens' fault. Koester was an excellent, hobby-oriented editor. During his tenure at RMC it was by far and away my magazine of choice. You can't compare Model Railroader, which is a broad-spectrum magazine with wide distribution outside the usual hobby shop magazine rack, to a niche-market pub like NG&SLG. If every narrow gauge modeler in North America bought a copy of each issue of NG&SLG, the numbers would not change much at all. I am quite sure that if you made a study, you would find that one of the supermarket tabloids outsells all the others. This doesn't change the fact that the content is all crap. Now, I'm not saying that Model Railroader is all crap. It most certainly isn't. Some of the stuff in there appears to be useful to someone. But the style and content has nothing much for me. While Model Railroader may outsell other railroad-oriented hobby magazines, on the whole, Kalmbach's sales have been steadily declining over the last 20 years; most dramatically in the last five to eight. I believe that a lot of people are offended by the editorial style, which appears to be based on the same styles used for publishing magazines aimed at drafty-headed teenage girls. Model railroading is a relatively expensive hobby, as hobbies go, and a great many modelers are educated professionals- people who have a large enough disposable income to afford $300 model locomotives. Most are middle-aged, or slightly older. I am certainly in that group, and I resent being talked-down to. If one is a fifteen-year-old newbie, perhaps there is not so much "talking-down", but fifteen year-old newbies are not the rank and file of this hobby. They are a distinct minority. Never the less, Kalmbach has chosen to steer Model Railroader in the direction of so called "dumbing-down". It's getting to be more about playing with ready-to-run toy trains, and is abandoning the arena of modeling railroads as a hobby.
Froggy,
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Froggy @ the pond..com wrote: [...]Model

It's cheaper than golf. Or sailing. :-)

I had quite rant here, but I snipped it, and offer only the final comments:
Model Railroading as a hobby includes an enormous range of interests, skills, and talents as well as wallet sizes. I've observed that those who diss MR tend to be group of people who would like more people to be builders of railroad models. Well, it's your right and privilege to want more people to share your passion. But, please, don't imply that somehow people who don't share it are "catered to" by a "dumbed down" magazine. That air of indignant hauteur ill becomes you.
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I never meant to imply that those who do not share my particular interests are somehow lesser individuals because of it. What I tried to say was that MR has no reasonable degree of interest for me, nor for those who share my direction of interest and level of skill. It is not like the magazine that existed before Russ Larson ruined it. Change is inevitable. It is a fact of life. Change is not always for the better, however, and, sadly, this has been the case for Model Railroader. Perhaps when Larson finally moves on- if I live long enough to see that day -someone else who understands the hobby of model railroading; someone who knows how to be the editor of a hobby magazine rather than a glitzy, slap-dash, "People Magazine" style copy paster, will take the reins and once again include content that appeals across the board to the larger hobby.
I can hear it now. R.L. to "puppet editor" Terry: "Give me half a page on Canonizing an Athearn SD40-2 into an accurate Southern Railway model, and KEEP IT SIMPLE!"
Yeah, right pal.
Froggy,
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Because both MR and MSFT are doing the right things to meet the needs of a wide range of people. That's how you become #1 in business.
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Mark Mathu wrote:

There's a subtle difference: In the 80s and 90s, MS forced hardware manufacturers to pay them an operating system fee for each machine, whether or not they loaded Windows onto it. Thus, manufactureres sold machines with Windows pre-installed, and consumers did not in fact have much of a choice. I tried several times to negotiate a lower price for a "blank" machine back then, but no retailer ever agreed to lower the price. They had to pay for Windows whether they delivered it to me or not, you see. (Those who like me did make a choice of OS usually selected a multi-tasking DOS such as DR-DOS, and later OS/2 or one of the early open-source Unix work-alikes. If Steve Jobs had been smart enough to invite 3rd party participation in Apple/Mac, we would IMO see a much more competitive OS market today, with benefits for everybody except perhaps Wee-Willie Wallholes' bankbook.)
MS played dirty in other ways, too, such as releasing MS-DOS 6.22, which was fixed to prevent certain 3rd party software from running on it. (Windows3x/9x/ME was actually a DOS with a pretty face.) The Justice Department under Clinton was close to nailing MS for their breach of fair competition rules, but then the administration changed. In Europe, MS was nailed anyhow, because they don't take kindly to market manipulation over there. MS does not meet most people's needs - it is one of the least reliable products ever sold to a mass market. If our cars were as badly designed and as failure prone as Windows, there would be Congressional Committees, Royal Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry and so on all over the world.
MR does regular market research, and adapts as best it can. BTW, print media generally are losing readership and subscription base.
In case you infer some wierd notions of my political/economic ideology. I'm a radical free marketeer, but I don't expect a truly free market anytime soon. In fact, I don't think it's possible to have a free market on a scale much larger than that of a village without forceful government intervention. But that's a discussion for another forum than this one.
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Wow Froggy you read the same stuff I read and don't read what I don't read<VBG>.
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Froggy wrote:
"Some while ago there was a spoof of MR that got passed around on this board. I thought it was quite humorous, and quite true as well. ( Can you say "quite" true. or is true an absolute word that cannot be modified? Do you have to simply just say "true"?)"
I know. I posted it.
Eric
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote: [...]( Can you say "quite" true. or

[...]
In two-valued logic, it's either T or F, 1 or 0, etc. In real life, almost all of what you say is more or less true (and simultaneously more or less false, a fact that generalisers tend to forget.) No generalisation is true about 100% of its subject group -- that's what makes it a generalisation. In fact, a generalisation without a numeric qualifier is true if it applies to 50% +1 of the group it's about. Absolute statements about a group are those that derive from the definition(s) of the group. EG, "It's yellow" is true of every member of a group defined as "A collection of yellow thingies." Mind you, you might argue about whether some particular thingy is yellow enough to be included in the group, but that is another issue.
Is this OT? Read to the end to find out. :-)
There is a multi-valued logic called, appropriately enough, "fuzzy logic." It's what makes your washing smart enough to know how to adapt for example its water usage to different loads. In fuzzy logic, any given statement has a value between 0 (absolutely false) and 1 (absolutely true.) Thus the answer to the question "Is this a full load of clothes?" ranges from 0 ("Nothing in the tub") to 1 ("As much as it can take.") Two-valued logic couldn't handle partial loads, so automatic control based on two-valued logic would either waste water or refuse to start the machine.
Now it gets back OT:
DCC is effectively multi-valued logic, since you use CVs to vary the values used by the processor to control speed, etc. If the only values available were 0 and 1, you couldn't adapt the decoder's response to varying motor characteristics, for example.
HTH&HF
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All exceedingly interesting, but you never got back to whether "quite true" was allowable syntax. If we are in two value world, then it is not, but if we are in multi-value world, it might be. In this example I tend to think in an abstract multi-value state. The bit is patently not true in an absolute sense, but it illustrates a point of view which has value. I think I could have done better had I written that the bit was humorous and cut quite close to the bone. You positively can get quite close to the bone without actually touching it. Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

Sorry, I thought my comment made that clear.
And, being the pedantic nitpicker that I am, I note that your question isn't a single question, but at least three. I'll clarify by way of my answers.
Syntactically, the phrase "quite true" is well formed. That is, "quantifier + adjective" is allowable syntax in English. OTOH, "Numerator + adjective" is not: you can't say "four red" or "17 and half false". (So-called traditional grammar groups the quantifiers with the adverbs, but modern grammars do not. NB that a syntactically correct phrase does not have to make sense. If that were required, we couldn't concoct humorous nonsense. BTW, I was an English teacher in a former life, which may lend my comments some authority. But I am a terrible typist, so ignore the typos, please.)
The phrase is also good usage. That is, it's acceptable in every part of the English speaking world to say "quite true".
And most importantly, it reflects the real world, which is definitely not two-valued. Ie, any claim about the real world is more or less true. Suppose the claim is a measurement: then you must allow for measurement error. Thus, even the most precise statements about some quantifiable phenomenon is never absolutely correct. Worse, you cannot know the actual correct statement (measurement). The best you can do is to estimate the range within which the unknowable correct measurement falls.
>If we are in two value world, then it is not, but if we are in

Yes, and you can miss it by a mile... :-)
If you want to explore this further, a math or philosophy group might be interesting. But lately many of these have been infested with kooks and cranks and such. Probably better to borrow one of those books of math aimed at non-math, non-science majors. Or one of Martin Gardner's books. Beware: math can become a hobby, too, and for some people it becomes an obsession.
HTH
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On Thu, 03 Nov 2005 21:55:25 -0500, Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

Especially since the negation "not quite true" is obviously proper.
--
Steve

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Richard wrote:

Huh? How long have you been reading it, Rich? Maybe it hasn't changed much in the last 10 years, but older issues (60's thru '80s) had much more construction and how-to material and much less buy it and run it material.
That's not necessarily a criticism, I suspect they know their intended market pretty well. Most folks just don't have the time for scratchbuilding any more and those of us who do have been doing it long enough that we don't need the beginner level articles in MR.
That's why I no longer subscribe. But I still recommend MR to any and all new modellers. I also suggest they pick up some old issues from the days of E.L.Moore and the like just to see if that appeals to them.
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On Thu, 27 Oct 2005 09:01:53 -0700, Larry Blanchard

Probably since some time in the 70's, and I've also noticed the shift from scratch building to kits or already built. Most frustratingly, in not being able to get things I want without unreasonable delay. Have to buy my scale wood in full packs instead of individual pieces as I used to, still not expensive, but the delays can be longer than I like. Drawings, no problem, if I see a building I like, I can usually get measurements, then put them in CAD and out comes the drawing, to better accuracy than I can cut wood.
In the last two months I've probably spend sixteen or more hours looking through back issues that were brought in to the LHS, looking for one, I don't know if it was in MR or RMC, two story company style house, I have several I scratch built, now can't find the drawing again and I need half a dozen more.
I don't subscribe to any, and don't read any of them religiously, but still find something of interest in every one I've bought.
Rich
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Richard wrote: [...]

[...]
Do you mean Jim Strangarity's Potterfield company houses? I clipped that 2-part article, RMC December 1978. I can snail mail a photocopy if that's the one. Mail me of group (there's no 'e' in the correct address), and let me know.
HTH
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