Archive for the ‘blogosphere’ Category

Gossipeur: The Second of an Inane Series

Friday, September 4th, 2009

Starting last Friday, until whenever it ends, I will be reporting on the facts behind gossip

Gossip Cop: To Protect and Serve Who?

Friday, August 28th, 2009

This is the first of an inane series on one of America

Is Socialism The Norm & We Just Don

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

The country is currently immersed in a wide-ranging (and healthy) discussion about health care. This overhaul of the for-profit system we use is alarmingly overdue so the debate is on in every city and town.

Without going into detail for days, some Democrats, including President Obama, are trying to enact a plan that would revamp the entire industry. Part of it would mean Americans could essentially purchase low-cost insurance from the Government. This is called

kidlessness

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

If your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either.
- Dick Cavett

Remember the Seinfeld episode where the Long Island couple wanted Jerry and Elaine to “Come and see the ba-a-aby!”

That cry is being heard less and less because too few people are having kids, and the trend is creeping upward. A non-child-rearing population is taking over in ways that our forefathers would have been scared to see coming.

A close female friend and I have had the same running joke for years. When asked about our prospects for having children now, one of us chuckles: “No pets, no kids.” It’s that simple.

In years to come, being kid-free will have less of a stigma attached and elicit some wicked pangs of jealousy from the world of the nuclear family. We people with no kids get to do everything, and yeah we get it, the kisshugwarmth from a kid is cool and all, and still people wonder all the time if the cleanup followed by terror is worth it. What fresh hell!

If you, like me and my partner, are running on the selfish track you find it hard to fathom what it’s like to be with a child, or even a single adult, 24 hours each day. So here’s my tale:

Three of my closest women friends had babies in their forties after swearing off the thought. They all got happiness — each of them has regrets that she shares with me only under alcohol. One of my friends actually said, “You don’t like kids” to me, knowing full well that’s not true. But I like them in your home. I don’t mind being insulted, but I’ve held strong. You tell people like me that it’s “all different” with children, and I’m sure it is — in ways that can be understood when you’re there.

Even those so-cool parents — with a sitter on deck — don’t live their former lives; they pretend to. Well, I hope they pretend. It’s either that or they’re not really good at parenting. One faker I knew had a babysitter “on deck” (living in his apartment building) so he and the missus could stay out drinking till 2; the baby was months old. He is all about the “possession” and I’m thinking spending nights with the kid is a positive of procreation!

I don’t prescribe to guilt, so “got to do it” never appealed to me. And then, sadly, many friendships take a hit as soon as the kids push out. It is good that new “urbitudinal” moms are closing their wombs to kids. Witness this press release from 2007 out of the University of Florida:

Women view childlessness much more favorably than men do, likely because parenting places greater demands on mothers, especially those juggling work and family responsibilities, a new study finds. Can you imagine this: a woman takes off an average of 11 years from career for family!

Parenthood — 11 years of dedication. I can’t get why one word makes people feel so warm and cuddly. I’m told, however, that parenthood has different consequences for women than for men. So says Tanya Koropeckyj-Cox — a sociologist whose intriguing study is found in Journal of Marriage and Family. “Although fathers have become more involved in childcare and housework in recent decades they provide fewer hours and generally less intensive care on average than mothers,” she said without any irony.

A release about her study put it well: “Results suggest that women regard both childbearing and marriage as being less central and more optional in women’s lives” (Koropeckyj-Cox).

A lot of people have decided — see upcoming statistics — that they don’t want to be the ones who mutter “You would understand if you had a child” to their pals. Based on U.S. census data, 44 percent of women aged 15 to 44 are turning away from rearing children. By the year 2010, that figure is projected to have risen to a child-free movement that has statisticians worried. In Europe, it’s been a slow buildup, and the next decade looks scary.

Whereas the United States has a 2.0 fertility rate (the average number of children that a woman is expected to give birth to), Italy has for years had a 1.2! European countries are taking steps to address the specter of sharply uncompetitive workforces. The Italian Labor Minister announced the government will offer incentives to keep people at work past the minimum retirement age of 57.

Spain has a doozy of a birthrate problem. According to the WHO, its fertility rate a few years ago was 1.1, the lowest in Western Europe. In North America, a newish study by David Foot, a demographer at University of Toronto, says that as more women are getting highly educated, they wait longer to have kids — sometimes until they no longer have the desire.

I speak (and I shake my head with delight) of a politically incorrect movement that has started around the world called Childfree. This crazy change of pace differentiates those who choose from those who simply cannot. One of my favorite organizations is called No Kidding! International, a nonprofit club just for singles and couples who are standing firm.

Jerry Steinberg calls himself “Founding Non-Father”; he claims that people are starting chapters everywhere, with their own hilarious lingo, too, such as bratley for bad kids and PNB for parent/not breeder, a way of acknowledging someone did it right.

As you know, unruly children make the kidless nuts! Pals complain about their messy homes all the time. I tell them: “I didn’t tell you to have them.” I am, however, stating the unobvious: “I’m friends with you. I’m not friends with your kid.”

There is a kinder and gentler side to this post, and for that I turn to Lisa Groen Braner, author of The Mother’s Book of Well-Being, who explains that something happens to parents, and new moms in particular, that makes motherhood an all-consuming experience. “Friends need to be patient, during the first year especially. The mother [and father] gets sleep-deprived, she may be nursing. Her whole perception of the world is altered. And the moms need to understand that not everybody finds talking about babies all the time completely fascinating” (Beth D’Addono, “Can This Friendship Survive?”, The Star-Ledger, August 3, 2003).

To paraphrase an old folk song: “What shall we do with the childless?”

A couple of years ago I got invited to a first birthday party. I like parties, although you wouldn’t have known it from the hissy fit I pulled that afternoon during that nightmare. Everyone was someone who owned a kid. I ran from the room. Naturally, I was the topic of conversation for the rest of the guests. And some days later, as if on cue, I overheard a childfree lady talking to a buddy: “I said I’m not able to make her three-year-old’s party, and boy did she think I was evil. She snapped at me big time: ‘Can’t you just drop the gift off and leave?’ Is that what it’s come to?”

For millions who choose to remain without offspring, it’s our yucky freedom after all. We find it strange when people inform us what great parents we’d make because this is not about the kids. It is about friendship. If a bond is real, it survives distances, fights, kids, illness, and even death. It doesn’t matter who takes residence in your home. You were there before, and you will be there when the nest gets emptied out . “A friendship is like a garden. You have to tend it and water it. Or it dies.” (Thank Sondheim for that tweet.)


I appreciate your putting your kid down while you read my diatribe. And remember there are more like this at home: Try my book, 2011: Trendspotting The Next Decade, from McGraw-Hill.

Twitter @laermer

Reliable Sources (and the People Who Love Them)

Friday, April 24th, 2009

“@markosm One suggestion for cash-strapped newspapers: stop paying for opinions. There’s plenty of GOOD free stuff floating around.”


News came this week that the New York Times Company has but $34 million left in the bank. Industry watchers have even suggested that the company might shutter the Boston Herald in an attempt to save some operating costs. That would definitely work, but I think I have a better idea: Get rid of your paid opinionmakers.

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Laureate in Economics. He has several bestsellers that have made it into multiple editions. The man

10 Ways Businesses Are Killed

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

During the last mercurial business cycle, I sneakily asked super successful types such as Mark Cuban (Mavericks dancer), Peter Guber (Guber), David Brancaccio (NOW man on PBS), Bob Davis (Speedy Lycos dude), and Gerald Storch (Toys

Hasn’t February Been Fun?

Monday, February 9th, 2009

It’s been pretty cold in this country, and we don’t even have George W. Bush around to blame for it, either.

The Super Bowl did a good job of brightening at least one depressing, frigid, winter Sunday. The game has been over for more than a week, but the ads are still fun to talk about.

Super Bowl stalwart Anheuser-Busch had already told or warned us its ads would be less funny in favor of something featuring Clydesdale horses in honor of its neo-American offering–namely Budweiser.

MMM... beer.

So a beer-pony is playing fetch with another. Anheuser’s ad guys told the Wall Street Journal the horses’ image “reinforces our brand values and…that we are not changing, and we are the same company.”

Gee how romantic. I have no idea how you can be both, but then again nothing says “Beer me again, Budweiser,” like watching a behemoth-horse play fetch.

I get that your beer is an icon and all, but once upon a time Schaefer was “the one beer to have” and it’s not having too much fun now. So my pro advice - I do run a PR firm, kids–for this newly Eurofied Anheuser is simple: Announce your beer will taste better. You’ll get more attention. These days a little honesty goes a long way; at least on this blog.

With that, I bring you The Bleak Economic Report: Surprisingly un-spared by effects of the recession is, tada!, The Porn Industry. It appears the only thing that has hurt PORN is the sexually transmitted disease that most Americans suffer from, better known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

DOES NOT COMPUTE

Recently adult entertainment moguls… er… porn guys Larry Flynt of “Hustler” fame and young prot

It

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

This in from Bea, a wonderful AE in my office (you did know I

Man Bites Dog: Newspapers Outlive Themselves, Are Bizarrely Unaware

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

News came on Friday that the Old Grey Lady is starting an Instant Op-Ed feature online. This new technology will “allow the paper’s Web site to post immediate expert viewpoints on breaking news,” said Editorial Page Editor Andrew Rosenthal.

LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!


Thank you, New York Times.

Golly, imagine. I can get Maureen Dowd’s opinion on something before tomorrow’s paper comes out! I can even, gasp, comment on what she wrote! Paul Krugman can tell me what to think of economic news in the middle of the day!

As one editor reaching put it: “This could be a forum for one of those people to express themselves in a more extended way.”

Well. We are witnessing harnessing of the awe-inspiring power of the Internet…yeah, if this were 2001.

Oh, my Times. What you’ve created is called a weblog - or a blog. These have been around for several years. They’ve been scooping you for probably the last few. Your own paper has blogs that are starters. The guys over in Sports run an awesome baseball blog appropriately called “Bats.” There’s “Bits” with several of our well-informed friends writing on tech-smart topics far and wide. This blogging is not a new concept, friend.

As an imbiber of the Times since my days in small pants, I have to wonder and I need to worry. Are they unaware that blogs exist, or are they hoping we don’t know blogs exist? Or, most interestingly, are they calling their blog “Instant Op-Ed” in order to make their so-called experts seem like more than mere bloggers?

This is problematic because - everyone take notes - there are smart people in the world who write blogs without needing the validation of being called an “expert.” A guy named Duncan Black, who holds a Ph.D in Economics writes a fabulous political blog that merits reading daily. A lawyer/veteran from El Salvador has with a single hand organized the entire left into electoral victory with the power of HTML. Heck, the trombone player for our local Philharmonic just started a blog that The Times even wrote about last week. Heavy sigh.

The point is that the New York Times may have officially jumped over the ship, sailed over the shark and run over my admiration. Not only has its Op-Ed department not embraced the technology that has existed for years, they apparently are so hung up on the concept of “expert” that they fail to understand that anyone with a blog tendency is, can be, and should assert themselves with their expertise.

The old-fashioned Op-Ed is dead now. Freely ask anyone with Wordpress capabilities if you think not.

…For more like this, see the book (or, even better: buy it) “2011: Trendspotting.”

The Real Blogs Stand Up

Monday, July 7th, 2008

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Blogs have become cultural beacons, sculpting public opinion and the whole of the landscape. I have come to love the blogosphere. What

Buy the Book - 2011

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