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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

August 9, 2013 at 10:02 AM

A modest vacation experiment

[NOTE TO READERS: My online column will resume on Aug. 26th. After this Sunday, my print column will return on Sept. 1st.]

Back in the 20th century, vacation had a different meaning. When I worked as a paramedic, it meant no calls with lives in the balance, no random gunfire coming my way and a time when I didn’t even pay attention to a siren. In the theater, August was the break, a peaceful month after the intense repertory of the summer. Later, as a journalist, I might come in the day before I was officially set to return — the better to thumb through letters that had arrived and not be unpleasantly surprised by what was ticking in the in-house mail envelopes. In every case, work was set aside.

This has all changed with the digital age. It happened gradually but has not reached a manic level. Even when I am technically off, I check email, send tweets, watch Facebook and write in my personal blog and the blog of the Reynolds Center for Business Journalism. The rise of smart phones and tablets has completely broken down the walls between private time and work time. Not this time. I am going to try to go off the grid. I won’t be checking my email accounts or reading online. No tweets. No Facebook. It will be the first time I’ve tried it. The downside: A huge in-box waiting for me, including emails such as one I received last week with a P.R. person pitching an author who had graduated from “the Walter Kronkite School of Broadcasting.”

I’ll be in Seattle and my bosses can phone if big news breaks. Otherwise, I am going to read books on paper, get my news exclusively from physical newspapers, reflect, re-create and enjoy small daily moments. The digital world is addictive. We are constantly connected. It’s changed the way I get news. It’s rewired my brain. Wish me luck.

Read on for some of the best economy and business stories of the week and the haiku:

This Week’s Links:

The magical world where McDonald’s pays its employees $15 an hour | The Atlantic

U.S. companies thrive as workers fall behind | NY Times

The problem with 401(k) plans | Baseline Scenario

Uncertainty isn’t killing the recovery | Matthew O’Brien

Amazon founder says he clicked on Washington Post by mistake | The Borowitz Report

The political and economic battle for water | Project Syndicate

Questioning the underlying structures of poverty and power is ‘off the table’ | Naked Capitalism

How corporate giveaways suck the lifeblood from your community | Middle Class Political Economist

More on sequestrations effects on the private sector | NY Times

Today’s Econ Haiku:

The Dow falls, wars start

Stuff that happens in August

Stuff before the fall


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