“One of those”

Have you ever considered what it really means to say “One of those days”? Is “those” a universal word? Maybe your reference and mine are different.

Perhaps you’re one of those people whom life gives you hard luck types, where you hear that expression, gauge it among the things that have happened to you on those days and thought “Oh, he must have been on a ferry that sang to the bottom of the lake, lost his car, was forced to swim out while fighting panicked passengers and exotic, invasive animals in the water. And then he lost it all in junk bonds.”

Maybe you’re one of those who enjoys perfection daily. When you hear about those days you just assume they had to carry their own groceries to the car, and the driver took the day off.

I had one of those days today, only my days like that are never bad, really. Things are merely not as convenient as I’d like, maybe, or the traffic isn’t especially cooperative on the day I got a late start on things. So I’m not going to use that expression anymore, because as I said it I thought That’s a silly list of things to complain about.

Today was majors day on campus, where all the departments set up table outside by one of the beautiful fountains. The breeze blows the handsome displays over, the water oak leaves spiral out of the trees and into our conversations and we all talk about our curriculum, the opportunities inside and the job prospects. Students who haven’t declared a major can see them all in one day if they want too.

So the late morning and the early afternoon was recruiting. And then emailing. The late afternoon was teaching, and then a sales meeting. And then I read while the student-journalist worked on this week’s paper. They are a quiet bunch tonight.

Journalism links: A Knight Foundation grant is going toward mobile transparency, via Sunlight Data apps:

“The Sunlight Foundation seeks to promote greater access to data from federal agencies for use at the national, state and local levels, said Ellen Miller, cofounder and executive director of the Sunlight Foundation. “These new apps will give the public unprecedented access to critical information that will bring us a step closer to closing the transparency gap in Washington.”

So you’re a reporter. You’re covering a senate candidate (at a function hosted at a local school) You work for a publication that isn’t exactly adversarial to the candidate. The candidate doesn’t want to answer questions about his previous experience in a public job. The candidate’s security, not police, but private security, handcuffs you. The police have to come and secure your release. Sound familiar? The new development in this bizarre Alaskan story is that the security included off-duty military. This story might not end well.

Shifting gears, been to France lately? Now is not a good time:

Americans arriving in Paris these days will notice that France’s planes, trains and automobiles are all being slowed or stopped by nationwide protests over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposal to raise the retirement age by … all of two years. Protesters are blockading refineries; truckers clog the roads, and yesterday air-traffic controllers walked off the job. Hundreds of schools around the country are closed, leaving students free to declare their solidarity with pensioners.

Sarkozy’s reform is intended to shore up France’s public pension system, which faces a $45 billion shortfall. But this modest reform, which has passed the lower house and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate this week, is merely a downpayment on France’s unfunded liabilities.

The larger issue is whether France and other Western nations will grapple with their entitlement obligations before it’s too late or sink under their weight.

Meanwhile, here at home:

New numbers posted today on the Treasury Department website show the National Debt has increased by more than $3 trillion since President Obama took office.

The National Debt stood at $10.626 trillion the day Mr. Obama was inaugurated. The Bureau of Public Debt reported today that the National Debt had hit an all time high of $13.665 trillion.

The Debt increased $4.9 trillion during President Bush’s two terms. The Administration has projected the National Debt will soar in Mr. Obama’s fourth year in office to nearly $16.5-trillion in 2012. That’s more than 100 percent of the value of the nation’s economy and $5.9-trillion above what it was his first day on the job.

But there’s good news! (It is not good news, no matter your frame of reference.

Just last Friday, the Treasury Department portrayed it as good news when it reported that the federal deficit in the fiscal year that ended September 30th was $1.294 trillion. That’s less than the $1.416 trillion deficit accrued in 2009 – the largest federal deficit ever recorded. It was also less than the $1.556 trillion that had been initially projected for 2010.

Yeah, sleep tight on that tidbit.

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