Friday, October 9, 2009

A week without the Internet - a news-junkie’s tale

Today my family arrived home from a week on the NSW coast. It was a holiday that we had been looking forward to for quite a few months, and as seems to happen so often in life it was mostly spent inside our cabin watching the rain fall in torrents outside. Such things are generally not so bad on family holidays – my daughters thought the week was great – lots of DVD watching, some “refreshing” walks on the beach, and also getting to sleep in the top of a bunk bed made for a perfect week.

I on the other hand near went out of my brain.

At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but by about the third day I realised this would be the longest I had gone without access to the internet for over two years. Just as we were heading out the door last Friday my wife asked about taking her laptop, as we knew the place we were staying had wifi access. I paused, and said “No, a week away from the net will do me good.”

Let me just say now, I was dumb, dumb, dumb!

It did not do me good. It did me bad.

The first twinkling that this was a bad idea came on Saturday morning, when I realised I would have to buy the newspapers – and I mean pretty much all the newspapers – The Canberra Times, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald. I realised however that this did me no good in trying to find out the baseball scores – the Major League is starting its post-season and I was interested to find out if Detroit had won and held off Minnesota in the race to be the first dish of the New York Yankees’ post-season gourmet dinner. Alas the scores were a day old, and again, because the newspapers were all Australian, there was no reportage of the games.

By Sunday things were getting worse. I woke and readied myself for my usual diet of Insiders and Offsiders on the ABC. But it was all so lacking. And what was lacking? Well there was no Twitter full of comments by others watching. What’s the point of listening to Gerard Henderson bang on about the left wing media if there is nowhere to write a running commentary about it? And watching Turnbull be interviewed and his trying to talk about his worries of Rudd's leadership!? Again I was screaming at the screen wishing I had access to the net to write something on Poll Bludger or twitter, and read what other like minded people were saying.

For you see going without the net is not just going without news (such as the fact that no newspaper in this country gives the College Football scores!) it also means for going without writing and discussing the news – whether it be on twitter, various blogs around, or indeed my own blog.

I thought the week was going to be a quiet one – no parliament… nothing seemed to be on the offing – the Libs didn’t have to decide about the ETS for a couple weeks… and then, boom! By Sunday Peter Dutton had been knocked out of his chance at running for a safe coalition seat, which suggested Turnbull had bugger all power over the QLD side of the party; on Tuesday the RBA lifted rates; Newspoll came out 58-42 in favour of the ALP; Costello quit; Turnbull imploded (again) on the 7:30 Report; and Joe Hockey’s name, for some dumb reason was being touted as leader of the Liberal Party. And there I was desperately wanting to write about it, desperately wanting to read what people were saying, and all I could do was watch the stupid pre-internet age (and non-digital!) TV and scream!

The lack of the internet affected even our DVD watching pleasure. We were working our way through the first series of the BBC series of “Robin Hood”, and were wondering if we had seen the actress playing Maid Marion in any other shows. Without access to we were unable to answer this question, and thus it nagged away…. Without itunes I was unable to listen to some songs by Black Eyed Peas to see if I did actually know any (there was a story on the radio about how they are touring Australia). And then on Wednesday night Hey Hey went all blackface, and my voice was not being heard on the net! (Well ok, even if I was at home my voice on this issue wouldn’t have been heard as we weren’t watching it…)

On Thursday night, “Q and A” on the ABC seemed completely pointless, given the only real joy from the show is the interactive nature of people on blogs and twitter heaping scorn on those participating – and with Janet Albrechtsen on last night’s panel, there was ample opportunity for scorn…

And to top it all off today Ken Henry appeared before the Senate Economics committee and I didn’t even know. Normally I would be watching it on an internet stream, and thus would have seen live Henry grappling with explaining to Senator Fielding that fiscal and monetary policy working complementary does mean that they are going in the same direction. Unbelievably, Fielding seems to think that because the RBA increased the cash rate to 3.25% that it means the RBA is trying to strangle the economy. Here’s a tip Senator – interest rates at a level lower than anything achieved since the 1960s is not a contractionary monetary policy, it is merely a slightly less expansionary policy than was last week. Let's use a nice simple analogy, the RBA has not put the car into reverse, it has merely taken its foot slightly off the accelerator – at 3.25% you wouldn’t even say they have put on the brakes. The Government’s stimulus package has similarly taken its foot off the pedal (as it was always intended to) and thus the investment from here on is primarily on non-inflationary, non-retail based areas such as roads, railways and ports….

If the Government is still banging on about stimulating the economy if interest rates are above say 5.5% then Fielding might have a point; but for now, the RBA and the Government are working together. But enough of this! (I shall revisit it once the Hansard of today is up).

Now I am back the important things are known – the Yankees are up 1-0 in their series against Minnesota, Kurt Tippett has been resigned by the Crows, Notre Dame beat Washington, the Bengals beat Cleveland, and no I haven’t seen Lucy Griffiths in any other show. And at last I can now get back to writing blogs and being plugged in every second to everything happening in the world.

Seven days without the net…Phew. What horror! What degradation of knowledge and enjoyment! What the heck did I do back in the old dark ages of the early 1990s?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OK, you've convinced me. I'm off on holidays next week. The work laptop is staying home, but I'm taking the mini pc. And I've topped up the mobile broadband. The motel room does have internet access, but it is whoop whoop, and I've heard it's very slow...