The Economy made us do it
It seems today's tough economic climate has become the ultimate scapegoat for pretty much everything.
I touched on this point last fall:
Leap While You Look: Moving forward in the Recession A cosmology episode is the opposite of a déjà vu experience. When you experience déjà vu, everything suddenly feels inexplicably familiar. By contrast, in a cosmology episode, everything seems completely strange and dangerous, unknown. In cosmology events, people feel that they don't know what to do because they've never been here before. Panic and fear bubble to the surface, and folks become so anxious that they find it almost impossible to take action. Weick's insight about how to move forward during a cosmology episode is as counter-intuitive as it is compelling. The people who really get in trouble, he says, are those who rationalize everything before taking any action. Instead, leaders need to act before they have defined and refined all their hypotheses. "Action, tempered by reflection, is the critical component in recovering from cosmology episodes," he told HBR readers. "Once you start to act, you can flesh out your interpretations and rework them. But it's the action itself that gets you moving again. That's why I advise leaders to leap in order to look, or leap while looking."Countu's "cosmology episode" echoes some of the findings of Cohen and Gooch's Military Misfortunes. In particular, the French high command in 1940 exhibited exactly the sort of quiet, cerebral paralysis that Weick predicts. Setbacks were not met with frantic reaction. Rather, the generals fell into the grip of a calm acceptance of the "inevitable". UPDATE: Bob Sutton sounds the same theme:
Sale of arms-- pistols should not be sold in any case, rifles only with police permission.
Newspapers' supply-and-demand problem (Why you should quit doing what everyone else is)
Consider a scenario: Newspaper A posts a local scoop to its website. The story is picked up by other news organizations. It's rewritten, repackaged, sent out on wires, and within hours that story or some version of it — sans additional reporting — is on a hundred different websites. Much of this duplication is automatic, but some of it is done by human editors. (See Google News any day for an example of this.) Best-case scenario, a few of those sites actually link back to Newspaper A.
Now let's say most of the duplication stops. Because there are fewer versions of the story, more eyeballs now find their way to the original scoop on Newspaper A's site. Good. But aren't many of these additional eyeballs just single-page, out-of-market visits that have little value to advertisers? Maybe, but if Newspaper A is sticking to its core mission of covering local news, it will be able to deliver an audience that's more cohesive on the whole — and therefore more sellable — than if its content is all over the map.
Journalism is the business of building communities - so newsrooms must hire from within those communities
That, I think is where so many news organizations have failed over the past generation. In a drive to professionalize the journalism industry (and, then, to cut costs), we've cut our publications off from the communities they are supposed to represent.
We should have gotten more time out of them. 5-10 with concurrent sentencing is not enough for what these men --police officers sworn to uphold the law-- did.
That's not what I got into policing to do.
Friends with badges, hear me: we had better damned well police ourselves. If a person in your ranks is breaking the law, then he is not a police officer-- he is a criminal with a badge. And we put criminals in prison.
Obama Gets High Marks for 1st MonthI guess those rants on Fox News and talk radio did not mean much after all.
Large majorities of Americans in a new Washington Post-ABC News poll support his $787 billion economic stimulus package and the recently unveiled $75 billion plan to stem mortgage foreclosures. Nearly seven in 10 poll respondents said Obama is delivering on his pledge to bring needed change to Washington, and about eight in 10 said he is meeting or exceeding their expectations.
At times, media coverage of criminal matters seems like a reversion to our primitive history. Watching Nancy Grace or Greta van Sustren brings to mind images from the Roman Coliseum. The goal isn't truth or justice, it is closure. Closure demands that someone must pay for the crime. Someone can easily become anyone, guilty or not.
I suspect that this is why the tabloid media continues to bash Aruba, but has lost interest in Chandra Levy. Both crimes are unsolved, but the DC police get a pass. Levy's murder, though, did cost Gary Condit his seat in Congress. Someone paid. That he was innocent of her murder is of little concern.
Who gives a rat's ass about a magazine designed to sell hair gel to "men"? Part of that equation is making sniveling little cubicle dwellers feel like they're hot shot studmuffins who just need the right cologne to finally score a date with that hot chick from accounting, and a big part of that equation - along with advice on white water rafting gear they're never going to use - is making them feel superior to (and more "manly" than) guys like Lt Jones, he of the "lower-tier liberal arts college" who couldn't get a job and is therefore "stuck in Iraq Afghanistan". (Sound familiar?) So readers of "Men's Journal" get to the end of that story convinced of their ongoing superiority to anyone who doesn't get a "Hawaiian Shirt Friday", turn the page, start drooling over the chick in a Bulova watch ad and forget all about it.
The writing is on the paywall
Now here's what a lot of people seem to forget: Excess production capacity goes away, particularly when that capacity consists not of capital but of people. Supply and demand, eventually and often painfully, come back into some sort of balance. Newspapers have, with good reason, been pulling their hair out over the demand side of the business, where a lot of their product has, for the time being, lost its monetary value. But the solution to their dilemma actually lies on the production side: particularly, the radical consolidation and radical reduction of capacity. The number of U.S. newspapers is going to collapse (although we may have differently branded papers produced by the same production operation) and the number of reporters, editors, and other production side employees is going to continue to plummet. And syndication practices, geared to a world of geographic constraints on distribution, will be rethought and, in many cases, abandoned.
As all that happens, market power begins - gasp, chuckle, and guffaw all you want - to move back to the producer. The user no longer gets to call all the shots. Substitutes dry up, the perception of fungibility dissipates, and quality becomes both visible and valuable. The value of news begins, once again, to have a dollar sign beside it.
The Coming Swarm
WITH three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging.
The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.
At the federal level, we should stop thinking in terms of moving thousands of troops across the country and instead distribute small response units far more widely. Cities, states and Washington should work out clear rules in advance for using military forces in a counterterrorist role, to avoid any bickering or delay during a crisis. Reserve and National Guard units should train and field many more units able to take on small teams of terrorist gunmen and bombers. Think of them as latter-day Minutemen.
Seeking justice for convict who died in prison
Rape victim, late inmate's family have DNA tests, other man's confession to back their claim.
A-Rod comes clean — now baseball needs to do same
[A-Rod] even expressed respect for the most clueless and potentially most dishonest commissioner in the history of professional sports, Bud “Iceberg” Selig, who had a front-row seat for McGwire and Sosa and was repulsed by Bonds. Selig pimped the ’roiders for relevancy when the game was in the toilet and now claims he was a victim of the steroids era.
Please let this end. The discussion of performance-enhancing drugs in sports is clearly the most deceitful, unintelligent, unsophisticated and hypocritical debate ever held in sports journalism.
We’ve done virtually nothing to rid football, baseball, basketball, hockey, golf, tennis, soccer — or any other sport performed for large sums of money — of performance-enhancing drugs. We’ve crucified and jailed a few high-profile athletes. We’ve made a few sportswriters wealthy and famous, or in the case of A-Rod’s hunter, Selena Roberts, we’ve hyped her tell-all book about the third baseman and given new life to her floundering back-page column in Sports Illustrated.