Friday, February 10, 2017

Pet Peeves - Media

Everyone is a Local News channel today.
My experience with media mentioned below has only really been from the last couple years of Bush presidency. So if you feel differently, please keep it to yourself (just trying out my inner presidential voice - please feel free to comment).
Am not talking about Fox News and MSNBC. They are on their own mission. Never understood what CNN was upto. Always standing around trying to 'break' something. "We are here outside this white building – there is a car parked here – we promise we’ll break it when anything happens"
Local news used to be the worst. "2 shot here, building burning there, did your car dealer cheat you?, how to stop superbugs getting on your toilet seat, extreme weather - possibility of water falling from the sky, don't go out....." just a dump truck pouring trash on your head...listen to that in the morning and go on with your life into a normal city like a normal person. Everything was (still is) a catastrophe. And they investigate too "we were first on this scene, nobody else was here, nothing happened, our reporter is standing by to see if anything ever will. We WILL keep you posted"
NPR sounded reasonable, just a little boring :) It is the rest of the crowd this rant is about. Including prominent newspapers that predicted a landslide democratic victory in the last election. Everyone started becoming doomsdayers sometime during this election season. The candidate (everyone was only covering ONE candidate) said or tweeted something ONCE and he moved on to other things. Some good, most not. But my news feed looked like he was saying the same bad things every single day, even after months after a single tweet.
I live in a red state and work in a neutral one. Never saw a Blue banner. Maybe 1 out of 100 people I met was a blue candidate supporter. But my newsfeed looked like a landslide blue victory and real life looked just the opposite. And let's not even get into Google and Facebook news.
Now after election, it is just noise, about everything. Getting to a point where one cannot distinguish the good from the bad. The frontline documentary 'Divided States of America' - covered all events from Obama's first election to Trump's election - was my last straw. Got to see an entirely different side of events I've watched over these years in media I believed to be fair. This whole election now made sense. This movement started a very long time ago. Even Obama rode a wave of hope & change which was partly anti-establishment. Scott Brown’s takeover of a long time democratic seat in Massachusetts happened a few months into the president’s term back in 2009. The other 18+ politicians in this election had no chance. The tactics of the lead candidate that were being guffawed on every media – in hindsight - seems to be a well executed strategy exactly to mine the political environment.
For my change - have been trying different sources for the past few weeks. And cutting down on what goes in. Sounds like a diet – everything in moderation! Like John Oliver says on Last Week Tonight - all we need is a half hour to ‘break’ whatever happened during a week.
Am about 3 weeks into subscribing to the NPR politics podcast. It has been impressive. They do not have a schedule, an episode comes out when there is anything to discuss. Just a very neutral discussion on each topic. Just one example to illustrate how they operate:
Appointment of the President’s Chief Strategist to Principles Committee of NSC:
1. First they discussed principles committee vs. the NSC itself. What they are, which one requires a confirmation, which does not. Security clearances.
2. Discussed legality of the move – fully legal.
3. DID NOT rant on about the appointee – we have covered a full episode on this person – go here and listen. We will not take up time on that again today
4. Precedent of such a move: Quite normal. Previous President’s chief strategist used to attend meetings even though not formally nominated.
There – all you need to know, discussed the right way.
They have even started analyzing the President's twitter feed to see what positions he is taking on upcoming topics. Things are starting to look consistent - the most extreme stance is first taken on Twitter, then negotiated down from there.
Washington week on PBS also appears very good. Have only seen one episode so far.
Now that was US media. Can see the same happening everywhere. Last trip at New Delhi airport, am sitting there waiting to board my flight. TV screen shows a reporter standing outside the airport - big heading in front of him flashing - 'BREAKING NEWS: HEAVY FOG - 14 FLIGHTS AFFECTED'. Couldn't make out what he was shouting. But I guessed my flight was definitely one if the ‘affected’ 14 - we were 15 minutes delayed!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Busy Busier Busiest!

Last looked at this statistic when we moved to ATL in 2008 and I started flying out of there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_by_passenger_traffic#2015_statistics

ATL still remains my favorite airport. Nothing fancy to look at. Designed for moving massive volumes of passengers (and aircraft) efficiently.

Back then it looked like ORD and LHR had quite a long ways to go to catch up. They still do...but then, the Chinese domestic market and middle east international market took over...and how!!



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The 'No Tipping' Point!

Listened to this freakonomics podcast recently http://freakonomics.com/podcast/danny-meyer/.

Tipping (extreme tipping rather) was one of two things that struck me as very odd in on my first trip to the US. The other was taxes not being added to price tags, you end up paying more than you expect - that's a whole other story! 

So restaurants get away with paying their wait staff way (way) below minimum wages and we get to foot the bill. Just does not make any sense. And they keep putting out blogs and articles so the 'recommended' tip keeps going up. 10% to 15% to now 20%...

Essentially - right now - wait staff are not the Restaurant's employees, but ours. It's a catch 22 - we can't stop tipping coz it's someone's livelihood and restaurants won't pay good wages till we do. 

It's good to see some top end restaurants (listen to the podcast) start paying employees well and add the wages to the food bill. Hopefully the trend catches on. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Daniel vs. Peppa

My 2 year old watches both Daniel Tiger and Peppa Pig. We get to watch runs and reruns (more reruns than runs) of both, and over time I've started hating one and loving the other. 

Daniel's parents are always the definition of 'ideal'. They are what we all start out as every morning, but give up about 10 minutes later to be ourselves. They never react, never shout, always have the perfect response ready for any situation. I HATE THEM!!!

Peppa's parents are the other extreme. Peppa's dad is overweight, gets teased for his tummy, ignores his wife's level headed suggestions, hates to use a map or ask for directions, etc. etc. They buy ice cream for the kids, they let them jump in muddy puddles, they love making a mess. Feels so good watching these episodes.

Doesn't matter to the kid, she likes them both. But given a choice (hint hint) she is watching Peppa :)