I’d Like To Keep My Privacy

Our modern society makes it very easy for data agreggators to know nearly everything about us. Someone knows what I watch on TV, surf to on the Internet, buy with my credit card, drive to with my EZ-Pass. You get the idea.

The more these individual pieces of data are put together, the less privacy I have. That’s pretty simple to understand.

My opinion is, we need more protection against the dossiers that are already being compiled on all of us. Those who do the compiling disagree, of course. Knowledge equals money.

I am worried about this corporate spying. I am worried about government spying. I’m most worried when it’s done by the government in concert with corporations – like the phone and cable companies.

Newsweek is covering this in depth.

The nation

Tough To Be A Global Warming Skeptic

I have mentioned this before. I am skeptical of many of the worst gloom and doom projections of those banging the drum for global warming.

Though I haven’t seen his movie, I have seen Al Gore speak on global warming. It was at the White House and he was one of the best scientific speakers I’ve ever heard. I still wasn’t convinced.

This weekend I thought about this a little. Why am I fighting the tide? After all, like you I’ve read all the pronouncements that science has made up its collective mind. Done deal. Fait accompli.

And, from a political point of view, if you’re a global warming skeptic, aren’t you on the side of oil companies and belching smoke stacks? Isn’t it better to side with the Prius people?

Like I said, I pondered this weekend. Then, this morning, I saw a link to an article in the Denver Press.

From Dr. Bill Gray at Colorado State University:

“They’ve been brainwashing us for 20 years,” Gray says. “Starting with the nuclear winter and now with the global warming. This scare will also run its course. In 15-20 years, we’ll look back and see what a hoax this was.”

Gray directs me to a 1975 Newsweek article that whipped up a different fear: a coming ice age.

“Climatologists,” reads the piece, “are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change. … The longer the planners delay, the more difficult will they find it to cope with climatic change once the results become grim reality.”

the article continued with more quotes and another Colorado expert, but this was the part that struck me the hardest. Again, Dr. Gray:

“Plenty of young people tell me they don’t believe it,” he says. “But they won’t touch this at all. If they’re smart, they’ll say: ‘I’m going to let this run its course.’ It’s a sort of mild McCarthyism. I just believe in telling the truth the best I can. I was brought up that way.”

I understand exactly what he’s getting at. That’s why I was pondering my position this weekend. I was hearing the crowd instead seeing the science.

I know what I believe, but no one wants to be looked at with scorn.

My Trashy Story

Every week, on Friday, our trash goes to the curb. Every other week it’s supposed to be accompanied by recycling. It doesn’t work that way in our household.

Whether it’s our distance from the curb or the amount of recycled newspapers we have (we subscribe to both the New Haven Register or New York Times) or maybe all the boxes we get because of online shopping, going to the curb bi-weekly doesn’t work. So all of this recyclable material piles up in the garage. A few times a year we stuff it into the SUV and I drive it to the transfer station.

Transfer station, what a lovely phrase. It’s so much more genteel than town dump.

I drove up to the transfer station this morning only to find the new policy – no newspapers. I had an SUV full of recyclables, and of course, the supermarket bags of newspapers were on top!

I unloaded the 20 or so bags of newspapers to get to the cardboard and other material underneath. At this point the transfer station folks took pity on me and found a place… a transfer station loophole if you will… that allowed me to drop the papers off. From now on it’s newspapers to the street, I suppose.

I want to be a good citizen, but it is increasingly difficult to follow the rules. In fact, it would be much easier to hide the newspapers and cardboard and bottles with our weekly trash. I’m sure a lot of people do just that. It also always strikes me as a little ironic that the two most talked about recycled products are made from sand (glass) or grow on trees (paper).

I know this is supposed to be good for the environment, and I’m for that. But, is it really? Is this just a feel good exercise with no payoff… or negative payoff?

From “Recycling Is Garbage” – New York Times Magazine, June 30, 1996:

Every time a sanitation department crew picks up a load of bottles and cans from the curb, New York City loses money. The recycling program consumes resources. It requires extra administrators and a continual public relations campaign explaining what to do with dozens of different products — recycle milk jugs but not milk cartons, index cards but not construction paper. (Most New Yorkers still don’t know the rules.) It requires enforcement agents to inspect garbage and issue tickets. Most of all, it requires extra collection crews and trucks. Collecting a ton of recyclable items is three times more expensive than collecting a ton of garbage because the crews pick up less material at each stop. For every ton of glass, plastic and metal that the truck delivers to a private recycler, the city currently spends $200 more than it would spend to bury the material in a landfill.

I don’t know what to think. I want to do what’s right, but I am really not sure. Until I know otherwise, I will follow the rules.

In the meantime, part of our recycling life at home will have to change. Newspapers to the curb. I can hardly wait for the first really big rain on a Thursday night.

Continue reading “My Trashy Story”

Men (and Women) In Black III

I was surprised to see a half page ad in today’s Hartford Courant from the air staff (members of AFTRA) at WFSB in Hartford. Their union negotiations have been contentious, to say the least, over the past few years.

Some long time employees have worked for Travelers Insurance, Post-Newsweek and now Meredith as station owners.

Travelers was local, which always makes a difference. And, at that time, the money was flowing in like water, to a station that had cost them a pittance to put on-the-air.

Post-Newsweek was a print oriented company and, though many people felt they weren’t as employee friendly as Travelers, the station continued to be a good place to work.

Meredith is also print oriented but it’s a different situation from Post-Newsweek. I am not involved in their labor negotiations, but I have heard that Meredith declared an impasse and implemented their last/best offer. There’s not much the union members can do short of walking out.

Today’s ad said the anchors and reporters would all wear black as a sign of solidarity – and they did. The ad also listed some of their grievances. A friend called me from their newsroom to say the tension was high and management had spoken to some on-the-air people.

Meredith is going to have to make a decision on how they value the folks on-the-air. Considering the preponderance of research that says, to a large extent, people watch TV stations because of whose on the air, I will be interested to see how far this goes.

This isn’t a grade school fight. Would Meredith really cut off their nose to spite their face? Will the union cripple the station by walking out and risking their own jobs at the same time? Are there more job actions to come or will cooler heads prevail? How can it benefit any company to be at war with their own staff?

I work for the competition and I want to win, but not by default against a crippled opponent. This time, the news will be from the newsroom.

(The Hartford Courant featured an article about the situation, which is attached below)

Continue reading “Men (and Women) In Black III”