Could This Be a Viable Economic Model for Journalism?

Civil: Self-Sustaining Journalism is a Medium piece about a new way of doing and sustaining journalism. Honestly, I’m fuzzy on the way the concept will work, particularly the “cryptoeconomic” aspects. If anyone has a clearer idea about what they’re getting at, let me know.

Offensive Coordinators Vs. Defensive Coordinators–QB Preferences

This MMQB.com discussion about Colin Kaepernick raised an interesting issue–namely, the different preferences that offensive coordinators (OC) and defensive coordinators (DC) have with regard to QBs. Benoit says he asked about a dozen well-known DCs, who they preferred to face: Peyton Manning or Colin Kaepernick (and I assume this was when both were doing well). He said a vast majority chose Manning, which seems shocking. On the other hand, my guess is that if you ask OCs which QB they’d want for their offense, the vast majority would choose Manning. What’s going on here? What does this say about OCs and DCs? I’ll share my thoughts on this in this post. Continue reading ‘Offensive Coordinators Vs. Defensive Coordinators–QB Preferences’

Is “Tanking” the Way to Build a Winning NFL Franchise?

Andrew Brandt, from theMMQB site argues that tanking play a vital for a winning NFL franchise. Do you agree?

Here’s a summary of Brandt’s views: Continue reading ‘Is “Tanking” the Way to Build a Winning NFL Franchise?’

If Russia Has Been Trying to Interfere in Our Elections Before, What Makes 2016 So Different?

That’s sort of the question, Senator Lankford asked a three person panel in a Senate Intelligence hearing a few months ago. Actually, he asked why the Russians interfered to such a large degree, in the present moment, in 2016. Here’s the video:

Clint Watts attempts to answer the question, but he actually seems to answer a different question–namely, why was the Russian interference so successful. (His answer is worth listening to.) Senator Lankford asks his question again. Here’s a breakdown of Watts’s answer (starting at the 2:30 mark; but it’s worth listening to his entire message), which I think is important: Continue reading ‘If Russia Has Been Trying to Interfere in Our Elections Before, What Makes 2016 So Different?’

James Comey’s Testimony to Congress

I’m guessing this might receive a lot of attention, so I’m creating a separate thread for this (which I will like to this tread). To start, here’s Comey’s opening statement, annotated by The Atlantic Monthly. Next, this National Review article by Dan McLauhglin basically describes my reaction to Comey’s opening statement. The last paragraph does a fairly decent job of summing up the statement:

The narrative the Democrats desperately want is that Trump is under FBI investigation for criminal activity that invalidates the 2016 election, and has committed impeachable offenses. The facts they actually have are a lot less sexy: a president who wouldn’t respect the FBI’s independence and couldn’t understand why the FBI Director couldn’t publicly exonerate him when he wasn’t under investigation. But those facts are ugly enough in what they say about Trump’s ability to run a government that inspires confidence in the impartial administration of justice.

Actually, that first sentence does not describe my position. Continue reading ‘James Comey’s Testimony to Congress’

A National Ombudsman

Concept: Form a group of journalists, a mix of conservatives and liberals, to serve on a panel that would review news stories and even political issues to identify areas of consensus on the key facts as well as identifying arguments or positions that are either legitimate or not. Above their politics, the members would be committed to Enlightenment principles and standards of journalism–and they would use these to analyzing the news and political events.

As an example, this panel could look at the ties between Russia and Trump campaign. They could identify the key facts, details about the case that are speculative, and they could analyze the various arguments and positions made by the Trump administration as well as those who oppose Trump.

I realize what I’m describing doesn’t really fit the description of an ombudsman, but I like the national ombudsman as a name for this. I do think this panel could also serve as traditional ombudsman role–namely, citizens could complain about certain reporting, and the panel could evaluate the reporting and then weigh in.

Purpose:

The purpose of the panel is to provide a basic and common understanding of important news and issues facing the nation–a way to specifically counteract the formation of individual information bubbles. The latter divides the nation and makes democracy far more difficult, if not impossible. The panel, by being ideologically diverse, and intellectually fair and rigorous, can help provide a way to help people get outside their personal bubbles.

Additional Feature:

The National Ombudsman could set up a website to publish their results with the a discussion section. The discussion section woudln’t be open to anyone. Instead, local newspapers could set up citizen’s editorial boards and they could choose some of these individuals to participate on these online discussions. Part of the idea is to find thoughtful and civil individuals, as well as weed out trolls, foreign or domestic.

Trump Regime (5)

Trump Presidency (1)
Trump Presidency (2)
Trump Regime (3)
Trump Regime (4)
Administrative Personnel Profiles

Here’s the fifth thread.

A Short Video on What Putin Wants in the U.S.

Here’s a two minute video explaining how Putin benefits from Donald Trump’s time in office:

Basically, Putin wants to weaken the American system of government, disrupt, if not tear apart, its society, to support his narrative that Western democracy isn’t very good or desirable, that authoritarianism is actually a superior system. I believe the U.S. and the West are now in a battle of these two competing narratives. There are reasons to believe that those in the West should take this battle very seriously–i.e., it’s a battle that can be lost. In this thread, I will explain reasons for this as well as other implications, particularly for critics of Western democracies. Continue reading ‘A Short Video on What Putin Wants in the U.S.’

How to Respond to Attempts to Undermine Our Democracy

Time magazine has good article on the way Russians are using social media and the internet to way a cyberpropaganda war. This sums up the situation well in my view:

Marrying a hundred years of expertise in influence operations to the new world of social media, Russia may finally have gained the ability it long sought but never fully achieved in the Cold War: to alter the course of events in the U.S. by manipulating public opinion. The vast openness and anonymity of social media has cleared a dangerous new route for antidemocratic forces. “Using these technologies, it is possible to undermine democratic government, and it’s becoming easier every day,” says Rand Waltzman of the Rand Corp., who ran a major Pentagon research program to understand the propaganda threats posed by social media technology.

Basically, the internet/social media is Disneyland for the Russians. Continue reading ‘How to Respond to Attempts to Undermine Our Democracy’

Rant: The GOP and Conservative Media Are Worse Than Trump

As bad as Trump is for the country, there are two groups that I hold more responsible for what is going on now. Those two groups are the Congressional Republicans and conservative media that are basically supporting Trump. I want to start with a quote from a New York Magazine: article by Jonathan Chait (emphasis added) Continue reading ‘Rant: The GOP and Conservative Media Are Worse Than Trump’

My Defense of James Comey’s October Surprise

Josh Marshall, from Talking Points Memo, has an article, on how we should understand James Comey, the former FBI director. However, Marshall seems to focus the most on why he believes Comey sent his letter to Congress last October, regarding Hillary Clinton’s emails–which basically constituted an “October Surprise,” that almost certainly hurt Clinton’s chances. Most of the reasons put Comey in a negative light–e.g., Comey wanted to protect his reputation as fair and impartial and that Comey had a real problem with Clinton setting up a private server. To be fair, Marshall also does acknowledge that Comey might have sent the letter because he assume, with justification, that more partisan FBI agents from the New York office would probably have leaked the information, if Comey didn’t–and that may be more damaging. Still, Marshall’s verdict on Comey’s decision comes down on the negative side:

One last dimension of this is that Comey was almost certainly assumed that Clinton would win. So it wasn’t just Republican attacks in the abstract. It was the very specific scenario of the Republican Congress finding out soon after Clinton’s election that Comey had ‘sat on’ possible new evidence against Clinton little more than a week before the election.

That must have been a difficult bind for Comey. But it shouldn’t have been a hard decision. Faced with choosing between what I think was unquestionably the correct and ethical decision and the one which would ward off challenges to his reputation and secondarily the FBI’s reputation, he chose the latter. Given the gravity and predictable consequences of the decision, his choice was and remains unconscionable. Whether he saw the choice in these terms or was so beholden to the myth of his own rectitude he saw it differently, I do not know.

In the article, Marshall overlooks one key issue, an issue that I think could largely justify Comey’s decision. That’s what I hope to describe in this post. Continue reading ‘My Defense of James Comey’s October Surprise’

Reading 2017

“I like non fiction. There is so much to know about this world. I think you read something somebody just invented, waste of time.”

(from Sideways the film, not the novel)

NFL Draft: Tracking the Comments of Experts (2014- )

I’ve done other threads, by draft year (2014, 2015 and 2016). I don’t really like that format, as I now prefer having just one long thread, making it easier to find previous comments. The idea, as I explained in those other threads, is to create a repository of comments and ratings from draft experts and track them over time. (For what it’s worth, I’m far more interested in the accuracy of the comments than looking just looking at the grades.) Please post comments from analysts of players that you’d like to track.

For this year’s draft, I’m going to start off with a comment about Malik McDowell, a DT, that went to Seattle. Continue reading ‘NFL Draft: Tracking the Comments of Experts (2014- )’

5Qs: Ode to Billy Joel

This thread is inspired by this Atlantic Monthly (which I would think Mitchell would enjoy, if not Don as well).

1. Favorite Billy Joel album
2. Favorite Billy Joel song
3. Bill Joel Song(s) you hate
4. Best memory/anecdote involving Billy Joel
5. The musician that accompanied your life (especially childhood and teen years) better than Bill Joel.

Bonus questions (for discussion):

Where does Billy Joel rank among other rock/pop musicians?
What is your opinion about Joel as to whether he is a serious (versus strictly commercial) artist?

Problems Relating to Government Apply to the Press

I wrote a post about why good work often isn’t valued in government, pointing to the nature of the consequences that occur as a result of performance, both individually and organizationally. What happens if the individual or organizations performs well or poorly? What types of behaviors get a strong response–negative or positive; and which behaviors don’t get much of a response at all? The answers to these questions will tell you a lot about the performance of the government agency and the individuals within it, especially over a long period of time. Moreover, if individuals want reform an agency, the consequences must also be in line with specific changes being made. To give a broad example, suppose the work of an agency is met with a great deal of indifference; that is, whether the agency performs well or not, the agency faces the same consequence–namely, virtually no consequence. An attempt to make big changes to improve the agency will be incredibly difficult, and almost certain to fail (assuming the objective is changes that aren’t temporary). No compelling incentives exists, which would leave a lot of disincentives to improve. Change is hard and uncomfortable without a compelling reason to change, change–meaningful and lasting change— won’t happen.

What I’m saying doesn’t just apply to government, but any organization. If you want to understand the performance of an organization and the behavior of the people in it, study the response to performance. Once you understand the response, you will understand the performance and behaviors in the organization. I want to apply this approach to the U.S. press, focusing on this video critique of CNN from Vox: Continue reading ‘Problems Relating to Government Apply to the Press’

Music For Every Major Holiday

On the past few Good Fridays, I’ve spent part of the day listening and reading Bach’s St. John’s Passion. I’ve been thinking about other types of music I could also listen to on that day. This also got me thinking music I could play for my kids on other holidays, with the objective of teaching them about the holiday, possibly getting them an appropriate frame of mind, and exposing them to culture and stimulating ideas. Given that context, I’d like to discuss possible music to play on the major holidays. And actually, I’d be open to expanding this to include movies, books, and other art forms. Here are a list of the holidays I’m choosing: Continue reading ‘Music For Every Major Holiday’

Notes on Brian Kenny’s Ahead of the Curve

Brian Kenny’s Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution was published last July, and I had it marked as a pre-order, but I had to put myself on a little restriction from new books in the second half of last year, so I didn’t get to read it then. I’m finally getting to it now, and it’s a fun read. Fun mostly because Kenny is coming out with his dukes up, and he knows what he’s talking about. I thought I’d put a few notes here, and maybe they’ll spark some discussion or maybe they won’t. My notes are mostly so I can keep track of some of the arguments presented in the book, since the book I’m really looking forward to is Keith Law’s Smart Baseball, which comes out in three weeks.

There’s a chance I’ll change the title of this post later, depending on how things move.

From the publisher’s website:

Most people who resist logical thought in baseball preach “tradition” and “respecting the game.” But many of baseball’s traditions go back to the nineteenth century, when the pitcher’s job was to provide the batter with a ball he could hit and fielders played without gloves. Instead of fearing change, Brian Kenny wants fans to think critically, reject outmoded groupthink, and embrace the changes that have come with the sabermetric era.

Rejecting outmoded groupthink is what I’m all about, so here we go.

Foreign Policy in the Trump Administration

What I have below is a compilation of various articles and quotes about foreign policy issues/stories that may have relavance during the Trump administration. (I probably should have started the thread a while ago, but I didn’t. I’m starting it now because I want to address the Syrian situation, involving the recent use of chemical weapons.

Before I do that, here are the articles, quotes, and comments about different foreign policy issues: Continue reading ‘Foreign Policy in the Trump Administration’

Can Comedians Teach Journalists How to Cover Trump?

The following Vox video at least implies as much:

The video makes some really good points. Initially, I enjoyed a lot of the video, but I started thinking less and less of it as I thought about it more. In this post, I’m going to address the problems I had with the piece. Continue reading ‘Can Comedians Teach Journalists How to Cover Trump?’

“But This Time It’s Different”

Someone observed (and I can’t remember who now) that Presidents who were governors from small states often have a very rocky transition. I vaguely remember the troubles Bill Clinton had initially, and I drew some conclusions from that. For one thing, Continue reading ‘“But This Time It’s Different”’