business news in context, analysis with attitude

Interesting piece in the Washington Post challenging the conventional wisdom that modern technology – computers, cell phones, email, text messaging and the like – has weakened family connections in the US.

Rather, the Post writes, a study published by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggests that, in fact, “families have compensated for the stress and hurry of modern life with cell phone calls, e-mail and text messages and other new forms of communication … In the poll, 60 percent of adults said that the new technologies did not affect the closeness of their family, while 25 percent said cell phones and online communication made their families closer and 11 percent said that the technology had a negative effect.

I found this particularly interesting since Mrs. Content Guy and I attended a parents meeting at our daughter’s school this week at which a number of parents expressed real reservations about their kids’ use of such technology, with one couple saying they don’t allow their kids to send text messages.

Now, I think that parents need to establish rules and guidelines that make them comfortable; this is by no means a judgment on people who have parenting methods different from ours. But my experience is very much in line with the Pew Study – I love getting emails and text messages from my kids, and have found that we talk a lot more than I talked to my parents during high school and college.

I’m also lucky. My kids haven't behaved in any way that has made me think that I cannot or should not trust them. If such a thing were to happen, we might have to rethink the rules.

But for the moment, I’m happy with the fact that technology has enabled greater connections within our family. If I didn’t get text messages from my kids, I’d miss it. I’d miss them. And I’d be missing out on being part of their lives, and having them be part of mine.

So much for our contribution to the betterment of western civilization.

There was a story in the Journal of the American Heart Association saying that the typical western diet – defined as being heavy on fried foods, salty snacks and red meat – is responsible for almost one-third of the world’s heart attacks.

What’s really sobering about this report is the implication that the western diet has been exported to other parts of the world that for some reason have identified our way of eating as something worth aspiring to.

The other two typical diets, as stated by the study, are an Oriental diet, which has more tofu and soy, and a Prudent diet, which has more fruits and vegetables.

Interestingly, people who pursued a Prudent diet lowered their heart attack probability by 30 percent, while people on an Oriental diet seemed to have no impact on heart attack rates as all.

Which is sort of good news for me, since I like fruits and vegetables and am not nuts about soy and tofu.

I saw “W.” last weekend, and thought the Oliver Stone movie about President George W. Bush was surprisingly even-handed and sympathetic. (That would not have been my bet going in.) Josh Brolin seems to have climbed inside Bush’s skin for his portrayal – it isn’t an imitation, really, but something deeper and actually sort of affectionate.

How much of the movie is true? Stone says almost everything, while others would argue it is largely a work of fiction. It almost doesn’t matter, in my mind. “W.” is, after all, just a movie, and an interesting attempt to understand the current, much-maligned occupant of the Oval Office. Some of the performances seem spot on – Richard Dreyfuss is terrific as Dick Cheney, and James Cromwell and Ellen Burstyn are highly entertaining as Bush’s parents. Not so great is Thandie Newton, who does a bad impression of Condoleezza Rice, and I can't make up my mind about Jeffrey Wright as Colin Powell.

“W.” probably isn’t the definitive profile of Bush, but it is an entertaining attempt to look at the motivations of a politician who has seem largely uninterested in self-analysis.

My wine of the week…the 2005 Domaine DES Schistes “Tradition” from France, which is has a little spice to it, perfect with a pizza or fra diavolo pasta dish.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday. (Or, maybe we’ll catch up with each other at the PMA Fresh Summit in Orlando…)


KC's View: