- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

Time is money

“While writing the second draft of this article, my telephone rang. I didn’t answer it, but I took a few seconds to check caller ID and think about it. Then it took me a few minutes to get back on track. This interaction — three minutes out of my workday — supposedly cost the U.S. economy about a buck.

“‘Workplace interruptions’ like that phone call slice $588 billion a year from the national economy, according to a widely quoted figure that comes from the New York consulting firm Basex. If American workers could work without interruption, the country would apparently be able to pay off this year’s record $400 billion federal budget deficit and still have enough cash left over to mail every U.S. citizen a check for $635.71. …

“Using Bureau of Labor statistics data from 2005, Basex estimated that ‘knowledge workers’ earn an average of $21 an hour. Then, based on online surveys and about 200 follow-up phone interviews, Basex concluded that these knowledge workers spend an average 2.1 hours each day fielding interruptions from e-mail messages, phone calls, instant messages, chatty co-workers, and so on.”

— Jeff Merron writing on “Workus Interruptus,” in Slate at www.slate.com

Race ‘spectacle’

“The race question, or card, as it happens to be played, is really an exercise in self-abuse, no matter what side of the fence you happen to be on. But there’s entertainment value in self-abuse, which is why, one supposes, reality television is so popular. There’s nothing really interesting about those characters whose appearance on the show was based simply on how easily they could be understood. As an audience, we’re interested in the car crash. FX, in its brand new series ‘Black. White,’ promises a train wreck.

“The plot is easy enough. Thanks to modern make-up and advances in so-called open-mindedness, a black family (the Sparks) and a white family (the Wurgels) agree ludicrously to live together and teach one another what it is like to be a different color. Each family switches over for short periods of time in order to have what amounts to a ready-made racial experience. The producers edit it just enough to make it a spectacle of improbability, incoherence and, yep, race-baiting. …

“Any claim to comprehension is out of the question. The show is only good for showcasing the worst that white guilt has to offer.”

— J. Peter Freire, writing on “Not Black and White Enough,” Thursday in the American Spectator Online at www.spectator.org

No thanks, Yale

“The postman this week delivered a postcard from Yale University addressed to my son, a high-school junior. ‘Greetings from Yale University,’ it began. ‘Your academic achievements are impressive, and we write to urge you to consider applying to Yale.’ …

“[Recently] a Yale official attacked, via anonymous e-mails, two Yale alums who criticized Yale’s decision to admit Sayed Rahmatullah Heshemi, one-time mouthpiece for a terrorist gang known as the Taliban. Alexis Surovov, assistant director of giving at Yale Law School, called [alumni critics] ‘retarded’ and ‘disgusting,’ accusing them of ‘terror tactics.’

“Like many parents, I’ve devoted much time to figuring out which college would be best for my son. This week, I narrowed down the list: any school but Yale. …

“Parents expected to pony up their life’s savings, or take out crushing loans to fund such foolishness, cannot help wondering: Why are we even thinking of paying for this?”

—Anne Morse, writing on “Anywhere But Yale,” in National Review at www.nationalreview.com

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