I have been planning to subscribe to a paper for quite some time. For a while, I was getting most of my news from Yahoo News Feeds which tend to focus on the dealings of movie stars. When I mentioned that some star had just dumped a boyfriend or had picked up a DUI, people would stop taking me seriously as a scientist because intellectuals don't follow that stuff apparently. Oops.
I briefly considered the LA Times and the San Francisco Chronicle but I actually know a little bit about what is going on in California and those papers have so many errors that I think it is safest to assume they are worthless. I am not sure whether it is worse to be uninformed or misinformed, but misinformed people annoy me a lot and I didn't want to become annoying to myself.
I moved on to the New York Times and got a free online subscription to test it out. I was disappointed, I have to say. NYT seems to trivialize everything important and to trump up trivial issues as important. I stuck with it for about two months online, but that was enough for me. The Washington Post was similar to NYT, but it also had the deficit of making me feel poor. There are way too many articles about decorating with white on white or gray on gray, the ten essentials of Vera Wang's daily existence, and how designer nurseries are becoming a commonplace necessity rather than an opulent luxury. I entirely gave up on it when I read something about how worthwhile designer toys are if you can get a small child to prefer wood over plastic. I am still not sure if they were kidding, but by the end of the article I was pretty sure they were serious. (Sorry Olivia, you'll probably grow up aesthetically challenged from Ross and Wal-Mart toys.) Anyway, clearly not the paper for me.
Eventually, I decided that enough was enough and I needed to get the news in some form so I subscribed to the Wall Street Journal without even a test run online. My thinking was that I know so little about economics that I won't know whether WSJ is right or wrong or trivializing important things. I just won't know. Also I thought that if I read about investments everyday, it might make them seem like necessities rather than luxuries which might have a positive effect on my finances. (I still haven't made my first million, but perhaps I will next week. WSJ reports that hair clippers are selling well since everyone is cutting their own hair now. Maybe I will get some stocks.) I guess my awareness of finances is increasing, but I am so miniscule in terms of global economics I am not sure if I can apply my increasing knowledge of them. (I felt that way about evolution for a while too, and look at me now. I am a leading researcher in a field followed by twelve people with a blog about antibiotic resistance that is followed by eight.) I also find I am now following Asian politics. I think that this is probably because they affect global economics a lot. Again, I'm not sure what I can do in response to the changing relationships of Japan, China and the US, but I'll just learn about them for a while and see what happens.
The non-financial news covered by WSJ often seems trivial, but when it is placed next to articles about the imminent doom threatened by weakening ties between the US and Asia, it seems appropriate to cover pointless and often humorous things. Why not get a few laughs while we can still afford the air we breathe (you know before there are taxes on our personal carbon dioxide emissions). I was able to entertain some friends by describing the scandal about Ghadafi possibly staying in Englewood, NJ and the plans in place to keep him from pitching his tent. (It earned its keep last week for that one). I am still not sure what is up with the tent. I have only been following this story for a week after all.