Service of Perspective

May 14th, 2012

Categories: Food, Perspective, Tourism, Travel


Things are not always as they seem.

In Training

infoboothpennstaI was waiting for a train to arrive at Penn Station in NYC and with nothing else to do, I chatted with the Information man, who had no customers at the time. He shared what he described as two silly questions he’s been asked recently: “Is this Penn Station?” was one and “What time does the 3:22 leave?” the other.

I didn’t think that the questions were necessarily silly. If I was from out of town or from abroad, I might want confirmation of the first–it’s impossible to tell that there’s a railroad station tucked into this building from many vantage points–and if the 3:22 was listed as “Delayed,” the second question would also make perfect sense.

Convenient Stats

Financial advisor Ric Edelman told his radio audience the other week about how a major life insurance company diligently searches social security records to learn if any of its annuity clients have died. Why? To immediately cut off payments.

However, the resource is not used to find out if any of its life insurance customers are dead. There’s no benefit to the company to promptly paying recipients their due.

So how does this strategy differ from a bank that keeps a deposit for a period of time–it’s there yet you can’t access it giving the bank time to play with it? It doesn’t. Stockholders love this approach.

Safe Slime

hamburgerReuters’ P.J. Huffstutter and Robert Burgdorfer wrote “‘Pink Slime’ May Force BPI Corporate Staff Cuts,” noting “In March, a public outcry erupted over the filler for ground beef, which is made from fatty trimmings that are potentially more susceptible to contamination than other cuts of beef. The trimmings are sprayed with ammonia hydroxide to curtail the growth of pathogens such as salmonella and E.coli O157:H7.

“Sales plummeted when consumers became aware of the common practice in the industry, despite U.S. Agriculture Department and industry experts saying the beef was safe to eat.”

Philip M. Boffey wrote, “What if it Weren’t Called Pink Slime?” in an op-ed piece in The New York Times. In a taste test Boffey preferred burgers with the filler because they were “more tender.”

This conversation reminded me of my stint as an Air Force wife living in Turkey for two years, [eons ago], which I wrote about before, but it’s again fitting to mention here. We’d buy our groceries from the base facility and because of the length of time it took for foodstuffs to go through the system, hang out on hot runways and linger in warehouses before they hit the shelves, there were bugs aplenty in our flour, cookies, cereal, chocolate chips and such. We were told that the insects were perfectly safe to eat.

The bugs and ammonia hydroxide on fat to create “lean finely textured beef” might be perfectly safe, but are they appetite-whetting? Would a good PR job to change pink slime’s name to LFTB do the trick, as Boffey suggests is what BPI needs to do? PR can do plenty, but even the best can’t remove ammonia or bugs from food.

Can you share examples of instances of things that may not be as they appear because it depends on your perspective?


4 Responses to “Service of Perspective”

  1. Tom Taylor Said:

    This may be a grim comment, but here goes.

    A few years ago, I worked closely with a sensitive and intelligent German. After 9/11, in the course of a serious conversation on international affairs, he made the point to me that at least twenty times as many civilians were killed pointlessly by the massive 1945 revenge bombing by the Allies after the war in Europe had already been won than in the Moslem destruction of the World Trade Center. As well, in the attack on Dresden, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities destroyed forever. I might have taken umbrage, but knowing him as well as I did, I took his point instead.

    How we view events, and react to them, depends upon our perspective. And in a world chocker block full of media and politicians desperate to sell us something, we tend to lose that perspective when we listen too incautiously – often to our deep later regret. We don’t even know yet what the ultimate cost of two pointless Middle Eastern wars we got into because of 9/11 will be!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Yours is a poignant example of perspective although when it comes to war, I don’t think there can be comparisons and perspective. It’s an equal opportunity atrocity.

    Add the white crosses and Stars of David tombstones in Normandy to the deaths from the 1945 bombing you mention….then I guess 3,000 people isn’t that many, unless one of the people is your spouse, father, brother, son, daughter, friend or colleague and then it’s everything.

    When I see the In Memoriam weekly TV listings of deaths from war right now, and see the ages of the soldiers, and think of all those who struggle to make a life without limbs as we saw last night on “60 Minutes,” or are blind or otherwise severely injured, I get teary.

    Nobody wins with a war—that’s my perspective.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    Start with a painting, and at least as many people will differ in opinions as to its quality as there are colors. As far as the Penn Station question goes, it’s legit. It’s not visible and unless one frequents it on a regular basis, one must ask a policeman where to find it. The only thing good about the place is that some of the trains are akin to two story luxury liners with the smoothest of rides. Kudos to Governor Christie, perhaps?

    Joking aside, there’s no excuse for war, especially in supposedly enlightened times. My reaction is not tears, but anger. Anger, not only at the stupidity of it all, but at those posturing phonies who shriek about “right to life” then cheerfully support events which send their own sons to face possible injury or death. I have little taste for abortion, but would prefer something of the kind taking place, where no suffering is involved, rather than bringing a child up to be destroyed.

    It takes a great deal of restraint on my part not to pick up headlines of ongoing ruin of our youth and rubbing it in the face of a self described saint who dares to call anyone who supports “choice” a “murderer.” Perspective, indeed!

  4. Jeanne byington Said:

    Paintings! What a perfect example Lucrezia. Some contemporary paintings that sell for $millions are head scratchers to me! So what do I know! Win the lottery and one of them won’t find their way into my living room.

    I’m with you on war–our perspectives mesh.

    I also never understood the thinking of a right-to-lifer who didn’t see the contradiction in killing a doctor who performed abortions. In a way I’ve circled back to the subject of war and what it does to a person’s perspective.

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