Sunday, June 22, 2014

Information Overload

This week I find myself immersed in a wealth of information that I want to absorb and in some cases need to absorb. It is making me understand what is often described as information overload. 
Greg Braden has a quotation in the front of his book Turning Point that resonates with me.

"We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely." E.O, Wilson (1929-) Evolutionary Biologist

We could say this is true for every generation in some fashion yet now is the first where the sources are so prolific we are at risk of paralysis due to information glut. I am one of those people feeling a bit of that right now.

This week I heard Ammon Shea, on CBC's The Current, talking about his book "Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation".  

I read as many books and articles about language and writing as I can fit in. There are so many more out there than I ever imagined!
Shea's knowledge of our evolving English language  made me relax about the grammar and usage police who will inevitably critique these aspects of my first novel. He used a term semantic drift to describe what happens to our language as it is changed and reworked over time. We have people who believe they learned the "rules" at one time and they are determined that these are the rules that writers, broadcasters and everyday folk should be following today. He was able to debunk a number of these so- called rules with his knowledge of the history of the English language. Listen to the podcast at 

Ammon Shea

This has led me to want to read his book to learn more about this topic. It will go on the pile of other books that I am hoping will "educate" me. I will continue to try to synthesize what it tells me about language usage for my writing and to choose wisely.

Which leads me to the second information overload I have wandered into this week. I have been given the task of watching out for an eighty eighty year old man who lives on his own in a house that I am responsible for. (Long story) He has the right to live in the house as long as he can care for it. Well he cannot. He lives on Old Age Security and Canada Pension which is about $1600.00 a month. That could get him by if he lived in an apartment or a seniors complex. He won't move and panics if it is suggested to him. He never married and has no relatives that can help. I have learned a lot about what isn't out there to help seniors like him. I wonder how many others are trying to manage without anyone knowing what's going on. I did learn that the businesses that were not getting paid know there has been a problem with his finances for some time. But who do they tell? And he is beyond sorting through the various people he has to call to get an extension on his bills. He is getting too much information and no one person helping him navigate through this maze. He has ended up in a mess not knowing how to get himself out of it. This has led me to be smothered with information about seniors and government that I have to think critically about and to make wise choices for him. 

Greg Braden also tells us that we are never going back to the "old days" and if we refuse to move forward through these times we will be stuck grieving for a time that will never return. 

That means "girding our loins"(The term gird up your loins means to get ready for work or battle. It is similar to rolling up a person's sleeves. In ancient times people used to wear belts called girdles and to gird up your loins literally meant tuck their garments up into their belt.) 

and "diving into the fray" of information. (“Shall we play the coward, then, and leave the hard knocks for our daughters, or shall we throw ourselves into the fray, bare our own shoulders to the blows, and thus bequeath to them a politically liberated womanhood?“ )—Carrie Chapman Catt, The Crisis (delivered September 7, 1916)

These are not simple times! 


  1. I don't want to seem negative but with all the information and internet access on hand i always feel like this generation should be geniuses. I remember wanting to find a picture of Marilyn Monroe reading and looking studious other than her sexy image for school but back then we didn't hav the interenet so even something as simple as that was so hard to procure. It's funny isn' it how things have changed?

    Regarding the elderly problem - where the heck do you start. I feel for him but then again he is still better off than most to be able to maintain a familiar home but the fact is he can't maintain it. Sorting it out will only stop the hemorrage but it is bound to happen again and again. There comes a time which is sad but he would have no stress if he just went to a care home. I see more and more of these old age stories as now my friends and I have elderly parents and hear stories of their friends. forget the wrinkles - these are the things that worry me about getting older...

    On a lighter note - congrats on the amazon order page :)

    1. Complicated for sure. He is so stubborn and yet falls to pieces if there is any suggestion that he move. Have to take him to court to prove he is unfit which I am not quite prepared to do yet.
      Thanks for the congrats.

  2. Mary - have thought more about your senior - this is where his banker and you and he need to sit down. There are things that can be done with the house, etc. that he needs to look into with you. Reverse mortgages, etc. The reality is that he should have sufficient funds to live on, given his age, etc, and with some careful advice and planning, will likely come out all right. We used to meet with my Dad's banker regularly and it made a huge difference! Have you also checked out property tax relief through the Department of Finance and the NB Low Income seniors benefit:

    1. The difficulty with this situation is that it isn't his house. It belongs to the estate and I am responsible to the heirs as well to ensure the house is at least debt free when it is sold. That isn't going to happen until he can get the property taxes paid up. My great aunt gave him a life interest which means he can live there as long as he is able. I have to go to court to get him evicted!! I did get him support for property taxes but it is a maximum up to $300. a year. Not a great help. It would be much simpler if it were his house! I have him on a payment plan that I will monitor and help with that should work. He is cooperating as long as I don't try to make him leave the house. More trips to Moncton in my future.

  3. Your senior is a huge project for you. God Bless You for taking it on. He is lucky to have you on board.