September 23, 2004

Loren Bliss and Wolfgang von Skeptik

MY NAME IS Loren Bliss. Wolfgang von Skeptik is the screen-name under which I began posting on the Internet in 2001. I am a journalist, retired first by disability and now by old age, veteran of an award-winning writing career that spans six decades, with 28 years at newspapers and trade journals. The jobs I have held include editor-in-chief, news editor, city editor, editorial-page columnist, investigative reporter, news analyst, public-affairs reporter and rewrite man.

I began my writing career as a sports stringer -- a part-timer -- in 1956 at age 16 on The Grand Rapids Herald, a fine lively Michigan daily that unfortunately died in 1959. I continued it on The Grand Rapids Press through the summer of 1957 as The Herald began to dwindle, and then -- after chronic familial dysfunction forced me back to my father’s residence in Knoxville, Tennessee -- on The Knoxville Journal, where I similarly served the sports department from September 1957 through November 1959. From January 1959 onward I was also a full-time student at the University of Tennessee.

Then poverty forced me to drop put of school -- I had been working a full-time job as a motel night-clerk at the same time I was a full-time student and writing part-time for The Journal too -- but the unexpected loss of the full-time job (I was fired for not defending the motel against a robber) left me unable to make the installment payments on my quarterly tuition. Having no other options, I enlisted in the Regular Army for a three-year hitch, 19 months of which (1961-1962) I would spend in the Republic of Korea. At this point in my life I seriously contemplated making a career of soldiering -- the unwanted child of the family, I got no help with college (and considerable antagonistic discouragement as well) -- but in late ‘62 The Journal resolved my occupational quandary by offering me a full-time job as a sportswriter, to begin immediately after my release from active duty. I joyfully accepted the offer, became a civilian again, spent three more years in the Army reserves and was honorably discharged in 1965.

I have also done various kinds of (mostly blue-collar) work that is far removed from journalism but is nevertheless relevant to the old-time reportorial mandate to understand the human condition: this includes a glorious year as a commercial fisherman -- engineer/deckhand aboard a Puget Sound salmon-seiner -- and a few years (especially while I was attending college during the 1970s) in which I worked variously as a commercial printer or a carpenter or a manual laborer. Once (to cure a sudden bout of undergraduate poverty inflicted by delayed veterans' benefits), I endured a week of the back-aching, mind-numbing torment that is agricultural stoop-labor, pruning post-harvest raspberry fields by hand -- an experience that gave me a lifelong respect for the men and women (often migrants) upon whom we depend for our bountiful supply of food.

During my newspaper years I mostly covered local stories but nevertheless managed to amass a few genuinely significant news credits. The one of which I am proudest is the 1970 Jersey Journal expose' of the heroin-addiction epidemic (and related federal cover-up) spawned by the Vietnam War. Another investigation, this in 1977, revealed via Federal Way News and United Press International how Washington state Governor Dixy Lee Ray, a Democrat, had scrapped the energy-conservation policies of her Republican predecessor and had bought her key department heads gas-guzzling limousines -- including a “welfare Cadillac,” complete with full-time chauffeur, for the head of the welfare department (though in fairness I should note the “Cadillac” was in reality a poshly appointed Ford LTD limousine). And a 1978 story -- an impulse telephone interview with the head of a controversial “anti-pornography” initiative campaign -- resulted in disclosures of tyrannical intent (including a scheme to use the measure’s fine print to close all the state’s gay and singles bars) that cost the initiative a 15-point opinion-poll lead and sent it down to defeat. Again, the story broke in FWN; it was then circulated statewide by UPI, for which I was the Tacoma-area stringer from 1976 through 1981, and for which I had begun stringing nearly 20 years earlier while I was a public affairs reporter at The Oak Ridger in East Tennessee.

Another journalistic coup of which I am especially proud , a post-retirement story, is the 1995 analysis of federal statistics that revealed via the Internet how welfare bureaucrats had methodically feathered their own nests at taxpayer expense, hiking administrative costs 5,390 percent (not a typo) even as they slashed stipends and services to the poor by nearly two-thirds. These bureaucrats had managed to conceal their outrageous gouging, which occurred between 1970 and 1990 (though mostly during the second decade), by maliciously blaming it on the victims of their cutbacks -- an unprecedented act of welfare fraud no doubt intensified by feminist efforts to use the Reagan Regime’s notorious welfare cutbacks to conceal a huge restructuring of the welfare system in accordance with strict feminist dogma: the principle that until women are granted absolute economic parity, any social services provided to males, even in the form of veterans’ benefits, merely worsens sexist discrimination -- and that, to the greatest extent possible, social services for males should therefore be embargoed accordingly. This was apparently a guiding but publicly unacknowledged principle of state-level welfare policy throughout the 1980s, its concealment facilitated by the near-total compliance of mass media. But the basic facts are not conjectural: all the data on which this story was based bears the imprimatur of the U.S. Government and was taken entirely from Statistical Abstract of the United States, the federal government’s official source book. Given the resumption of the debate over welfare reform, the full implications of this story may still be unfolding.

Summoned back to work by the need to supplement my pension, I am again available for writing and editing assignments (whether online or on paper) and may be contacted through this website. I live in urban Washington state within sight of Puget Sound. (Revised 21 December 2006)

Posted by Loren at September 23, 2004 01:54 PM

Hi Loren - So glad you have found such an appropriate outlet for your craft! Love, Gretchen and Blue

Posted by: Gretchen Mottet at September 30, 2004 10:17 PM


I enjoy reading your posts on I'm glad to read your blog as well. I post on by the name of mominNoCA. My name is Sue Sitter.

Thanks for putting your work online!

Posted by: Sue Sitter at October 4, 2004 01:37 PM

Hi Loren,

I post under the moniker luvreagan and have enjoyed your curmudgeonly posts for quite some time. Though I generally eschew your pessimism I find your iconoclastic slant on things refreshing and interesting. I think you may have long last discovered the perfect vehicle for the expression of your ideas. I hope your blog eventually gathers the attention that it will no doubt deserve.

Posted by: Burke Churchill at October 4, 2004 05:06 PM

Dear Loren
During a recent revery I watched myself shoot a rifle at a target in the woods south of Bellingham in about Autumn 1971, and realised with a shock that you had been too near it when I fired - that I should have waited until you got back to where I was - and that probably explains why you immediately packed us up and drove me home without another word, ever. So I have googled your name so that I can apologize. I am very sorry that I did not know better, and endangered you. I wish you well.
Leslie Wicklund

Posted by: Leslie Wicklund at June 19, 2005 10:16 PM


Messages from the middle east

Posted by: Khodran at August 25, 2005 12:23 AM