Archive for the 'budgets' Category

Olympic coverage

August 1, 2012

I don’t like the skewing of Olympic coverage towards individuals and dramatic stories.  I like the aesthetics of the high-caliber performance of a sport, and I like when the commentary explains to me the details of what contributes to that — even just calling attention to techniques that separate a good performance from an excellent one.

Further complicating the actual coverage is how our media seem to have decided before the events even began which individuals to pay their most attention to.  It’s not like the evening news where bias is overtly frowned upon, but it seems, for my taste, too much like boosterism even in the context of sports nonetheless.

The other frustration I wanted to express is something I may have picked up years ago from my college roommate who introduced me to the finer points of gymnastics (she was a gymnast, her brother was a gymnast, their mother a coach, and I became women’s team manager).  I like the balletic aspect of gymnastics, the flow that some gymnasts have on balance beam, the gracefulness of their limb extension, for examples.  The coverage does mention some of this, but our cultural orientation seems not only to focus more on muscular difficult tumbling but not to even wish for a gymnast who can do both, the difficult tumbling within a graceful presentation.

And one of my smaller frustrations: the live streaming online is only available to customers who pay for their TV reception.  I’ve lived without WGBH (the local PBS station in Boston) for months while they fix their antenna in Needham, I can live without more extensive Olympics coverage, but it bothers me to feel left behind by the mainstream media because I don’t make paying for TV a priority in my household budget.

Will technology become a budget-buster like health care?

August 17, 2011

I will admit at the outset that I am not a technophile.  I was married to one, and I don’t consider myself actively hostile to technology, but I’m not comfortable with it myself.  So, that’s where I’m coming from, discount my concerns below accordingly.

My question is whether we are creating another budgetary drain through technology, similar in dynamic to how we became increasingly accustomed to getting the best health care available and have been caught up short by what that means to personal and public budgets.

Computers and cell phones used to be discretionary items, even luxury items.  Now we are all expected to have them, and possibly more.  Parents are supposed to available to schools, for instance, by cell phone, tax payers are supposed to access necessary tax preparation materials on line, bank depositors are supposed to review their bank statements on line — the list goes on, and I would suspect, will continue to grow.  I can understand some of these requirements, for example Connecticut’s insistence that attorneys undertake certain transactions on line (requiring even a particular brand of browser for at least some of the required transactions) — it may be reasonable to require certain equipment and expertise of all attorneys, as a kind of cost-of-being-licensed and in order to make sure the playing field is more level for clients.  But what about for people on low and fixed incomes, especially older people, even just people whose salaries are not going up or may even have been frozen or reduced through cuts in hours or furloughs?  Having to replace machines, having to do business with an internet provider even when their charges go up — these are becoming required household expenses in addition to food, clothing, shelter, utilities, and other “necessities.”

Have we really thought this through, this growing insisted dependence on electronic communication?  If there is a (growing?) subset of our society that will not be able to afford the internet access demanded in order to be a full-fledged member of the mainstream, it seems to me that we will be creating yet another kind of underclass.  If we demand that people use their finite incomes for certain electronics and supporting services, it seems to me that we will be fostering more indebtedness and making it more difficult to pay other necessary bills (like rent, mortgages,fuel for heat, etc.).  It doesn’t seem to me that people’s expendable incomes are rising in sync with the costs of keeping up with the technology mainstream society seems to be requiring.

I hope there is more discussion of this issue than I am aware of.