Friday, October 17, 2014

Fear, Hype and Chicken Little

For Newsers, Journalists, Bloggers and Assignment Editors:

This may not warrant "Top Story Status," but in thousands of communities across the country, including dozens of major media markets.
Biohazard decontamination unit set up outside of Fairfax Innova Hospital, Fairfax, Va.

Someone is publicly displaying symptoms of nausea, vomiting, weakness, and perhaps a need to find the closest restroom.

EVERY SUCH CASE IS NOT SUSPECTED EBOLA.

Now, I know you may want a good lead, but it is October, there are colds, flu, allergies, and a bunch of worried people out there.

Let's tone it down people. If the idiots on the desks are not cooler heads, call someone in who thinks responsibly.

--- What the hell do I know? I'm just a retiree! ‪#‎PandemicsWarrantPerspective‬

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola: What We Have to Fear is Hysteria

When the hysteria begins, it will be far too late. The whispers are slowly building to a roar.

Although no Ebola suspected patient has flown directly to the United States from Africa, the railing about banning flights is building among the angry voices and disaffected.

There is an undercurrent of noise that would stop U.S. citizens and legal residents from seeking medical treatment in their own country just because they have traveled abroad.

That those flights are coming from Paris or Brussels or London needs to be considered because that amounts to bans on international air travel. I remember how silent the skies were after 9-11 and personally, I never want to go there again.

EBOLA IS NOT NEW. Yes, it is new to the civilian world in the United States, but U.S. military, foreign service workers and some journalists have been dealing with the risk and building awareness for more than a decade.

When we start denying Americans opportunities to come home from business trips or vacations, we will become victims of the fears we have refused to surrender to during decades of international terrorism.

People are now listening to and believing hearsay from unidentified callers who get through on talk radio stations. I spent enough time doing radio to have a few names for such attention seekers.
Veteran broadcasters call them squirrels or trolls.

The day I leave this country and find myself in need of help as I try to get back in only to be denied is the day everything I've ever been taught about my country becomes a lie.

Read, learn, take precautions... but never let fear change who we are.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Can You Spare a C-Note for a Poor Journalist Down on His Luck

When journalists lose their jobs, it does not always happen in ones and twos. Sometimes people are informed by the dozens.

One irony of this new age is that even as the world has more access to information than ever before, the people best equipped to cast aside the nonsense are being jettisoned in favor of sub-par content from unknown or unqualified sources.

In the world of the Internet, there is no system in place to sort the facts from the fantasy. Consumers accept what they choose and too often allow a contributor to declare opposing views as invalid.

This is not an age of reason. Let us hope that it becomes something more meaningful than garbage in and garbage out.

Truth has value and compiling it is neither cheap nor free.
Forty-seven very talented people lost their jobs, Oct. 8. This time it was an all news station in Houston, Texas. Just weeks ago it was dozens of editors, journalists and production specialists at Gannett's flagship outlet, USA Today.

A couple of months earlier, it was Bloomberg News.
What is a viable business model for news and information? What is the break even? Like print, radio is struggling to figure that out.

These are very tough time for talent.

At some point, the public will begin to ask questions.  Among them, who wants me to believe this and why is this true. 

There have always been differences between entertainment, advertising and news.  We are losing that and marketing messages are influencing what we think and accept as facts.

There is a danger there. When you throw all information into the same bucket, the result is propaganda. In an age of unlimited access, who decides what matters, and who pays them for that?


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Guilty of Adolescence and Executed Without Trial

Thinking about the Loud Music case and the 1st degree murder verdict for Michael Dunn in the Jacksonville, Fla., death of 17 year-old Jordan Davis, I remembered this guy.

At 16, he played his music loud. Hung out with his friends, was outspoken, mouthy and opinionated.

There were many words used to describe him, but scary and threatening were not among them.

Had some idiot gunned him down and claimed "the scary black man" defense, things might be different.


Michael Dunn did not shoot into a car "full of blacks." He shot into a car full of teenagers who were African-American.

These unarmed children were doing what teenagers do. Hanging out, listening to music.

The "myth of the scary black man" defense is a worn and tired throwback that refuses to die.


It is a reality that governs day to day relationships, creating an artificially aloof decorum in the work place and often slashing like a knife to legitimize some slight or reason for exclusion.

In schools, churches and even some social circles the threat of the "scary black man" is spoken in terms from whispers to roars or communicated with glances or body language exchanged silently.

There is a disconnect in the United States.

We speak of children who die violent deaths for acting like kids as victims and their suspected killers as predators, unless those left dead are black.

Then they are thugs who surely must have done something justifying deadly force.
Michael Dunn shot into a car filled with people, unarmed CHILDREN.

I know little of Jordan Davis, aside from the fact that he hung out with his friends, listened to his music loud and had an encounter with Michael Dunn in a parking lot in Jacksonville, Fla.

At 17, he does not appear to be much different from the kid depicted in the photo at the top more than 45 years ago.

Like Trayvon Martin, 17, or Michael Brown, 18, 17 year-old Michael Brown is dead. Each of these young men were taken out by gunfire at a time evidence shows they were unarmed, and doing things teenage boys have always done.

Walking from a store, talking to a girl on the telephone, or hanging out listening to loud music with friends in a parked car. None of these acts warrant a summary execution on the street.

Those who point to political change and rail against what they see as the failures of an elusive "post racial society," should ask themselves how they justify in their minds that "the blacks" must be controlled in 21st Century America.

Respect for authority does not equate to surviving encounters with armed and distrustful police or private citizens determined to dominate encounters with "angry black males."

Adults with morals and conscience should have little difficulty seeing the evil and the tragedy of young people being cut down for simply being kids.

Our system supports innocence until proven guilty, yet these young are dead in part because to some they were considered suspicious and in death they remain suspect.

The young man pictured at the top has survived for many decades. At times, an awareness that some people on the streets would distrust him, detain him, hurt him or try to kill him was an instant reality.

Knowing and understanding the meaning and the culture of the "scary black man" defense was something the elders imprinted in me before my teenage growth spurt.

It is something that mothers, fathers and grandparents teach to this day. It is also something the parents of some biracial children worry about in the night. 

That President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, the young Derrill Holly, pictured above and hundreds of my friends understand it is based upon our individual life's experiences. That others may not get it means that as a nation, we are simply not there yet.





Friday, September 19, 2014

Making the Most Out of a Ruined Season

From the first time some high school girl walked down the hall in her boyfriend's letter sweater, sports has been more fun with females committed to the game.

I really don't get males smiling, high-fiving and hooting in the stands in the jerseys of their current guy crushes, but women in the stands rooting for their teams, their stars and their winners makes any sport big fun.

At 55, Roger Goodell's childhood memories of football likely had more to do with college loyalties and the New York Giants than the blue collar appeal of the National Football League.  Perhaps he snickered or smiled as Broadway Joe Namath posed in pantyhose and made it okay to appeal to female fans.

The National Football League acknowledges that as much as 45 percent of its fan base is female. I submit that if flasks, hotdogs, hoagies and urinals were all the experience of going to games represented, blackout rules would make watching the home team dicey at best.

Professional football is not academic or amateur. It is mass entertainment, designed to appeal to families.  While the base is male, the marketing and the message is for men, women and their children, often procreated during halftimes or as spiked opportunities spurred on by victories for the regional favorite.

The convergence of the fates, or the stars, now gives America's favorite game and a substantial proportion of its fan base an opportunity to dramatically alter our culture and our society.

The melting pot of U-S has been unable to roil or boil past violence-- family violence, as a method of control, and ultimately a hazard too often causing injury to those considered most vulnerable.

Too often there is a willingness to excuse the offender, point out the adverse impacts of punishment for the victims, and move on to protect the integrity of the institutions.

Goodell, as commissioner of the NFL had the power on Sept. 19, 2014 to declare zero tolerance for domestic violence, outlawing those suspected of victimizing others from the game until their names were cleared.  He could have taken an extreme stand, instead of forming a safe and deliberative committee.

He could have created a category that would have dramatically altered Fantasy Football and given bookies across the country sleepless nights.

"Physically unable to perform because they are suspected of beating their children, wives, girlfriends, or playing grab-ass with an unwilling waitress."

The season tickets are purchased, the schedule is set, yet, female fans make up 45 percent of the fan base for the NFL, and if you look in the stands, beyond the NUTCASES in the dude jerseys out there in Peanut Heaven acting crazy, they represent maybe 48 percent of the fans in the decent seats.

Women now have opportunities to bring structural change to male sports, simply by declaring "you must be acceptable or you WILL BE BROKE."  They also have a chance to dramatically alter the debate-- or lack their of around the antiquated issue of FAMILY VIOLENCE.

"You will commit to fixing this, or your silence says "you just don't get it."

This is a problem in the house, next door, down the street, in the neighborhood, in our towns, our cities, the region, our states and in our country.

Football is America's sport. Men and women love the game, but violence in the home and the family is an unpleasant American tradition.

Fix it by facing it.

COVERGIRL'S RIP-OFF ads  are PERHAPS THE RIGHT IDEA.

See you Sunday, and if you want, change the game.-- Then, make sure that those graced with the privilege of elected office consider the value of moving once and for all, beyond the tragedies of domestic violence as a basic fact of life.

The number one domestic issue in the United States is violence, if it is not, then ask yourself, why not? Then decide if you are good with that.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

For Apple: If Anyone is Listening

I WON'T BUY AN IPHONE VI AND WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE

I could text 500 word news stories real time on the original Blackberry keyboard.

The touch screen keyboards of today are not designed for my large hands or texting speed. What's more, the larger screen is why I still use a Samsung Galaxy Droid4x today (can you say tardy to the party).

So how do we improve the product?

Shatter resistant display, gel coated subcase for shock resistance to an 8 foot drop, a liquid tight, aluminum or stainless steel case, and printed nano circuitry to reduce connection ware.

I want something that won't break and will still fit clean, slim and without a bulge in the inside breast pockets of my suits.

The problem with Apple's approach is that they have banked on people accepting a product with a $500 plus price point as a disposable item, with a use life of 18 to 24 months.

That is wasteful. But then I grew up with lighters, flashlights, and watches designed to last five years or indefinitely. No matter how you look at it, the costs of the Apple IPhone is way too many work hours for the crap shoot of a product you have to insure to keep from buying it two, three, or four times during the service contract.

The extension of contract is an insult, the lack of durability is an injury waiting to happen.

Phones: Replace Bakelite with black plastic, black plastic with 60s era colored plastic, rotary with push button, and then some off the shelf cordless digital push button. But not $500 of junk.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

D-Day Was More than Hollywood

On the 70th anniversary of the "D-Day" invasion: Before our parents were the ages of our youngest children and oldest grandchildren, they had seen and saved the world.

Missed not just for their valor and their commitment to cause, but for the change and prosperity they brought to our country in civilian life. #GreatestGenerationInspiresStill
 

My friend, Will Wright wrote the article below for MSNBC's Grio: Black Soldiers on D-Day: Invisible but Present.

When you see films and photos from the D-Day invasion featuring those huge barrage balloons, it is proof that we were there. 






Black soldiers, sailors, merchant seamen and Coast Guard personnel did their part from day one and moved cargo, men and mail from U.S. ports all the way to Berlin. #AmericanMilitaryNotHollywoodHistory