When Data Does Good

It is always nice to have reminders that the Social Security Death Index actually does much good for upright citizens, despite recent breathless publicity to the contrary. So from time to time the blog will throw some examples out, even if they aren’t strictly genealogical.

For example, here is an example from the insurance industry in which it seems that the SSDI could have been used more:

   Over the past nine months, state regulators, treasurers, comptrollers and some attorneys general have been probing to see if insurers violated laws by using a Social Security death database to cut off retirement-income checks of annuity owners but not using the database to determine if policyholders have died and death benefits should be paid. [Emphasis added.]
   Insurers say they have behaved lawfully. Insurance contracts typically state that beneficiaries must file a claim to trigger a payment.
   After regulatory prodding, many more insurers are now using that database in their life-insurance units, and, as a result, some of the $1 billion is now accounted for, according to regulators and public filings of insurance companies. But a lot remains to be distributed.
 Here is the full story from The Wall Street Journal. (Thanks to Actuarial Opinions for the link.)

Links, 1.04.12

And … the links are off and running for 2012.

Resolutely yours: Naturally, many of us are weighing in with lists of goals for 2012, in a charmingly plainspoken way at that. A representative sampling:

“Back up your genealogy data”: Thomas MacEntee.

“Learn how to look up one new type of genealogical record”: Pattie at Everyday Genealogy.

“Set deadlines”: Lorine McGinnis Schulze.

“Finish a project”: Kris Hocker.

And, the one that made me smile ear to ear — “Have fun chasing these people”: Brenda Joyce Jerome.

Do you mind if I just make this my list? I can’t improve upon these.

Kindle spirit: Did you get a Kindle for Christmas? I did. I am having so much fun with it. The only thing that would make my fun complete, if I had a New York Public Library card, is Ebook Central, which the NYPL officially launched this week. Alas, I do not qualify for an NYPL card, but  I still found Ebook Central a fascinating look at the new ways we will be relating to libraries in the future. And if you do qualify, and want to get tips on how your e-reader and NYPL card can relate to one another, the library is offering in-person help sessions from now until January 13. Edited to add: I’m told I might qualify after all, what with me being on a joint return that pays NY state taxes.  Stay posted.

Conventionally speaking: Wondering about RootsTech 2012? It’s only a month away. (Excitingly enough, I am going.) Dick Eastman recently provided a useful rundown on Salt Lake City logistics.

Classics: Yes, I am late to the party on this, but I feel duty-bound to say that Michael Hait’s The Genealogy Paradigm Shift: Are Bloggers The New Experts? and Marian Pierre-Louis’  thoughtful follow-up, Genre and Genealogy, are unquestionably headed for the Seminal Post Hall Of Fame.

Military intelligence: Ireland’s military records are going online, an interesting development. Here is the press write-up, and here is the link. H/t to Janet Crawford of  Rootsweb’s Tipperary email list.

January. Cold But Invigorating.

On New Year’s Eve, the resident teenager turned to me and said, “Are you ever glad to see some years go?”

Granted, this is the sort of question one should expect from a resident teenager. And yet, some years really do not inspire tears of nostalgia. I have a feeling that for me, 2011 will turn out to be one of them. I hasten to say that everyone at Archaeologist Central sailed through 2011 just fine, with some laughs, even. But the feeling at the end of the year was … OK, there ya go. No sniffles here. Off to something new! Bring it on, 2012!

In the spirit of New Shiny Stuff, I’ve decided to move the Links to Wednesdays. Blogging can become an awful stuck-in-the-mud thing if one doesn’t watch it, and it feels like a shakeup is just the ticket, even a minor one like moving the Links around. Full disclosure: I was thinking of canning the Links altogether in favor of quick individual posts. But I do rather like lists. So in a triumph of indecision that we’ll all agree to call diplomacy, I’ll do a combination — shorter Links, plus quick takes.

Blogging during the last three months of 2011 was light due to real-time, off-line genealogical endeavors. I learned a lot, and got a lot of food for thought, and some future posts about new ways I see my own family research.

So … Happy New Year, everybody. Now, back to work.