Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Small Thoughts for Today

There was a title I thought of but then forgot to use on the previous posting: "Quantifying the Zeitgeist". Might be a good title for a piece about statistical surveys like the one quoted there. How our desire for validation leads to polls and surveys about virtually every subject under the sun. Marketing tactics applied to all of life. All of life as market fodder. There's something there.


Paul Krugman, whom I have lauded in this blog as one of the bright spots in the American news media, hits home again today in his New York Times column, the most recent in an illuminating series on Social Security.
The point that struck me this morning has to do with the "pack mentality" of the press. He points out how the American media have fallen into line to report as fact the Bush administration's fallacious scare tactics on a looming Social Security "crisis."
To quote Mr. Krugman:

"Today let's focus on one piece of those scare tactics: the claim that Social Security faces an imminent crisis.
"That claim is simply false. Yet much of the press has reported the faslehood as a fact. For example, the Washington Post recently described 2018, when benefit payments are projected to exceed payroll tax revenues, as a 'day of reckoning.'
"Here's the truth: by law, Social Security has a budget independent of the rest of the U.S. government. That budget is currently running a surplus, thanks to an increase in the payroll tax two decades ago. As a result, Social Security has a large and growing trust fund."

Mr. Krugman goes on to explain the economic arguments against the so-called "crisis" line that Bush and team have been pushing so hard in order to drum up support for their effort to dismantle one of our key social "safety net" programs.
Why does the press in general simply follow the administration's lead on this? Is it laziness, as Al Franken might surmise? Probably in part. Is it the fact that the media relies on "experts", and the administration is able to haul out supposed experts with all of the necessary bona fides? Probably also true in part.
Thank goodness we have journalists like Paul Krugman who look beyond the official story.


I am amazed that there may be people who will buy Amber Frey's book about her relationship with Scott Peterson. Even though I will admit to being somewhat interested in the Peterson trial -- I did not follow it closely but kept up with the headlines -- I can't imagine devoting the effort it would take to read even a short book by a secondary character in the story. Especially when I still haven't read Nicholas Nickleby.

Wierd burp in the blogospher just now. I pressed CTRL+I to get italics and started an unsuccessful publishing effort instead. Fortunately, I was able to get back to this page.


I have written a few times about work -- about never having found a career I am passionate about, about wanting to retire. Today the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should never be thinking about retiring, but instead about finding productive work that I would like to do until the day that I no longer can. I think I'm heading back to writing -- or reading -- for a living. That thought came to me while I was reading Jane Brody's piece in the Times about expiration dates on food. "What a wonderful career," I thought. "To be able to make money explaining something like this, that many people have wondered about and has been written about probably very little."
My conversation with my boss yesterday on the subject of work was interesting. Seems he's having thoughts about a drastic change as well. Is it just the time of year, the temporary disappointment of knowing we will not get a major bonus this year? Or is there something more serious going on in the way our business is working?


Looking at my output on this blog, it is obvious I have been in a bit of a writing frenzy so far in 2005. I guess that's healthier than spending the days staring at porn.