Sunday, 15 February 2015

Six years into PES

Today, instead of a comprehensive note on one topic, a jumble of thoughts on manifold issues…

1. The coming Tuesday will mark the sixth anniversary of my first post on this blog. Having ridden out several crises I’m now back on the right track and not plan to give up on blogging, although increasing posting frequency is out of question. There’s life to live beyond the blog and despite drawing lots of pleasure from writing, blogging involves solitude and that’s the main reason why overindulgence in this hobby is something I shy away from.

2. In my first job, I developed a habit of starting a conversation with a fellow employee with a polite question, such as “how are you (doing)?”, “how’s life?”, “how are things going?”, etc. (to be precise, there are usually their Polish equivalents), rather than coming straight to the point in the first sentence. I also got accustomed to cheerful, yet more of less often insincere replies that everything is alright. At the New Factory such courteous question is an open invitation to an interlocutor to churn out a litany of woes. Such habits indicate my fellow colleagues are typical Poles, who’d feel uncomfortably if they didn’t have a cause to grumble. In Anglo-Saxon culture if you ask your acquaintance how they are doing, they would smile and respond “great”, even if their house has just burnt down, their car has been stolen and their animal has just popped off (it’s a simplification, I realise, but illustrates some general differences). The whole issue is about striking the balance between being straightforward and keeping a proper distance. If I ask someone how they are, should they assume I really care about their well-being or should they recognise I want to behave politely or break the ice, but deep down I don’t give a damn about their well-being? From my perspective it looks as follows: whenever someone who I don’t judge a friend asks me how I am, I smile and reply I’m doing fine. Quite often my assertions have little in common with truth, but I consider these white lies, since sincere answers would have negative value added. On the other hand, maybe I should appreciate people trust me and tell the home truth, instead of pretending everything is alright? All in all, I feel ill at ease, when I hear someone has a headache, someone else has not gotten enough sleep, feels sick, their car has broken down again, etc.

3. After yesterday’s bridge blaze, I’m strongly tempted to ask at what level of competence a journalist passes master. Headlines conveying information that “structure of the bridge is in fire” instantaneously brought out malicious comments from Internet users. Several commentators asked since when the Łazienkowski bridge is wooden, while they’d thought its structure was made up of steel and concrete which generally do not catch fire. A bridge in flames is generally a rare event and takes journalists aback, plus in such situation there’s a huge potential for disinformation as the story unfolds, but shouldn’t journalists learn more about the bridge’s structure and what actually burns before delivering a piece of information to its recipients? This is just one odd example, the more glaring from my perspective are those laying bare incompetence of economic journalists. In the context of expertise, should a journalist dealing with economic topic should be a graduate of economics (or finance or similar discipline of studies) with post-graduate diploma in journalism, or the other way round? Many times it seems to be the notion of economics is confined to cursory reading on a topic, without grasping its intricacies…

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