Thursday, May 06, 2010

Bits and Pieces - May 6, 2010

I got back last night from a week in northern New Jersey. More on that later, perhaps, along with some photos.

I needed a bit of time away from the interwebs. It was quite a week, of course. Seems like we're having a lot of those lately. I think I have some new ideas for posts, but it can be amazing how many of my ideas for posts never become posts.

I don't watch television at home, but I check it out when I'm traveling. It's clear that cable news does not have enough material to fill 24/7. The rate of repetition can be amazing, but that's not the worst thing about it. I've been bothered for some time by the desire to anticipate the news in the blogosphere, and it's worse on cable news.

Back when I was writing progress reports regularly, the pressure to anticipate results was strong. It's an easy mindset to fall into, and the pressure in the blogosphere to be the first to say something is part of the pressure, along with a general societal desire to be the smartest guy on the block.

But you get a lot of things wrong that way. That's not the worst thing in a world that expects all this fortune-telling, but it's wasted effort. When cable news does it, it confuses people as to what has actually happened.

There's been a lot of worst-casing over the oil spill in the Gulf, both on cable and the interwebs. But we're not going to know what has happened until it happens. Here are some numbers for comparison.

And then there's the issue of home-grown oil. It turns out that nearly half of Gulf oil is exported, but, as they say, oil is fungible, and more oil is more oil, wherever it goes.

In keeping with not being too far ahead of the story, I'll offer my opinion that we need a national energy policy. I've said it before, so maybe that counts. But even without a policy, it appears that we are decreasing our emissions of carbon dioxide! And fairly quickly, too. So maybe I have been wrong. Whatever; I've got some fodder to say more about that.

Then there was the Times Square guy with fireworks and other potentially flammable stuff in his car. People in the New York City area, where I was, learn to be tough and unflappable. Or to look that way, which is pretty much the same thing. We also like to seem competent, so this guy was just a bad joke, and Times Square was pretty much back to normal in a day, and competent law-enforcement personnel caught the bungler in two days. President Obama's comments reinforced the message that fear is not part of the American character, and the TSA people were no more obnoxious on my return than they were on my departure.

I was wondering, though, if that anticipatory news, usually of the worst possible thing anyone can imagine, doesn't feed into the aura of fear. Plus not knowing how much of all that is true. Certainly cable provided anticipatory news on this story as well as the oil spill.

It seemed to me that what I've called President Obama's community organizer strategy is working. That will be a much longer post, posting time to be determined.

1 comment:

troutsky said...

I visit lots of homes where 24/7 cable news is on all day as an ambient presence. The people do not seem particularly well informed.