The Dallas experiment

The New York Times reports on a rather disturbing development at the Dallas Morning News.

Some of the senior news editors, specifically the sports and entertainment segment editors, are being asked to report directly to the general manager in addition to maintaining a relationship to the editor and managing editor.

[Bob Mong, the editor of the Dallas Morning News,] said the announcement caused some unease among reporters and editors, and “they had all the questions I would hope they would have, and believe me, they’ll be very vigilant.” He said editors were told explicitly to fight back if they were told to do anything unethical.

Another quote further down the article states that the change grew out of a situation where no advertising employees focused on an online section added by the sports department. While this is certainly one way to keep the problem from recurring, in general I have to question the prima facie connotations of news people reporting to those in charge of advertising sales. It definitely gives the implication that ethics are being set aside even if in reality the ethical issues are being addressed adequately.

I can only imagine how fast the FCC would swoop down on a TV or radio station that did something like this. I wish I had more time to keep an eye on the Dallas Morning News over the coming months to see just what becomes of these changes. Or maybe I won’t have to, and those asked to compromise ethics in reporting the news wind up being part of the news instead. It is understandable that reporters don’t want to wind up being the subject of reports themselves, but should this become a trend it has the potential to trigger the downfall of news reporting as we know it today. And that would be a shame.

Apologies for the slightly glitched version that was posted earlier. I am in the middle of testing some new blog editing software that did not function as well as I had hoped.

Taking down the weasels: Google sues the scam artists

Better late than never. Credit goes to ReadWriteWeb for being the first place where I read about this recent development.

It’s rare I find something a large corporation does that is worthy of praise, but this is one such situation. The official Google blog reveals that, finally, the corporate behemoth has decided it’s time to drag the weasels into court. Yes, weasels. Anyone remember those posts? (It’s a three-part series, in case you weren’t around in April when I first posted them.)

I lament that it took Google at least eight months to catch on to what was obviously dubious appropriation of their trademark. In fact, with the inclusion of “Google” in the dictionary, the company has already come dangerously close to losing its trademark.

At least, we hope, a few scam artists will be bankrupt shortly, and the sunlight from Google’s official blog will probably scare the rest of them into hiding for a while.

A victim of his own honesty

What could our justice system possibly be thinking when they prosecute cases like this?

A recent Mashable post chronicles the tale of Matthew White of Sacramento, California. Matthew is 22 years old and about a year ago downloaded what was represented as a copy of College Girls Gone Wild. Let's just say it was mislabeled and I don't doubt for a moment Matthew would have not bothered downloading the file were it truthfully labelled; it contained child pornography.

So Matthew deleted it, and thought that was the end of that. About a year later the FBI shows up at his family's house, and his family lets the agents inside and allows them to examine the computer, presumably without a search warrant.

The investigators recover the "deleted" copy of the mislabeled child pornography and now Matthew faces 20 years in prison. The truly sad part of this is that according to the story, Matthew plans to plead guilty and accept a 3.5 year sentence.

Hopefully someone out there knows Matthew and can relay a copy of this post to him. The last thing you want to do is plead guilty (I've already left a comment to this effect on the original Mashable post). Were I in Matthew's situation I like my chances in front of a jury.

Of course, the best way out of this situation is simply to deny the agents entry to the premises or access to the computer without a warrant. At that point their options are either to come back with a warrant or cease pursuing the case.

I don't know what crime Matthew committed that is worth sending him to prison for 3.5 years and branding him a sex offender for life. If the FBI is looking for people to make an example out of, surely they could pick someone who actually intentionally downloaded child pornography and kept the files instead of deleting them? At the least, Matthew should get a pardon. There is no sense in ruining the life of someone that young who acted in good faith and in all likelihood, was ignorant of whatever law he may have technically violated.

Shame on you, FBI agents that worked this case. Here's hoping your time holding the badge is short-lived.

The Big Move, and other stuff

We’re rapidly approaching the end of 2009. And with it, comes The Big Move.

What is The Big Move, you ask? In a nutshell, this blog will be moving to a new home within the next week or so: rantroulette.com. If you’re seeing this on the new domain already then The Big Move is a success.

With the move will come an all-new design. I have the logo done already; it’s just a question of the theme. The close friends that got to follow the evolution of the graphic design for Quinn’s Big City from start to finish will already know this so I’m going to have to tell the rest of you from experience: the logo is the easy part. I may not even necessarily be able to use this logo as is, and I may not keep the first design or the first logo. (I did change the font on the QBC logo once prior to soft launch.)

I mention this now because after the change shawnkquinn.com will become a portal-like site about me and all my efforts, encompassing not just my personally maintained blogs, but my participation on other sites. So if you arrive at that instead of the usual expected diatribe on the news story that has my blood boiling this week, that’s what happened. I’ll keep a notice up for a short while on the main page to get everyone used to going to the new home of the blog if that’s what they are looking for.

Anyway, the reason for the change is simple. As my fame increases, I will need a place to announce public appearances and press conferences, and post press releases that specifically have to do with me versus one of my other efforts. In the beginning of course, I will be writing most of my own press releases and handling most of my own media relations; eventually, of course, that’s the kind of thing I hire others to do. I have an idea of who I trust to fulfill that position; if I reach the point where my first choice is infeasible I’ll ask for recommendations, first from close friends, then from a wider audience.

2010 will be a big year. For that matter, so will 2011 and 2012 building on the foundations laid in 2010. (I live life by the Roman calendar, not the Mayan calendar, so I think life will go on just fine after 2012.) I’ve always gravitated towards the limelight, unhappy being just a nobody. There are people out there who felt it in their best interests to try and keep me out of the limelight, that think I should quietly resign myself to being a nobody and keep my social activities to the handful of close friends and maybe a few dozen casual acquaintances I already have. They do this because that’s what is most convenient for them.

They may be right about one thing: the limelight may not be big for both me and the highest-profile person/people in that group. I’ve played a bunch of games during my life, including chess, backgammon, and poker. Nobody ever won a game of chess or backgammon by resigning. Nobody ever won a hand of poker by folding. While I think it is unfortunate that my unwillingness to back down will frighten, alarm, annoy, and terrify certain people out there, I stand behind my course of action, and offer one word of advice: Deal.

Shortly before or possibly shortly after The Big Move (as I am calling it), I will be posting a series of posts from Gwen Bell’s Best of 2009 Blog Challenge. I’ve looked, and some of these it looks like I may not be able to do, but I’ll do as many as I can.

Taking one on the wallet

Ever watched a sporting contest of some type where the performance was so bad you wished you could get your money back? Well, that wish came true for some soccer fans across the pond recently.

Sky News reports that after a particularly disastrous contest in which the home team, the Wigan Latics, lost 9-1 to the visiting Tottenham Hotspur, the players for the home team decided as a gesture to the loyal fans they would refund the purchase price of the admission tickets to the fans who paid to see the game.

Mario Melchiot, a defender for Wigan, told the team’s Web site:

“We feel that as a group of players we badly let down our supporters
yesterday, and this is a gesture we have to make and pay them back for
their tremendous loyalty.

“There is not a lot else to say, just that as a group of
professionals we were embarrassed by the way we performed, we feel
it was below our standards and this is something we feel we owe to
the fans.

It’s great to see that the players owned up to their dismal performance.
Admittedly, this kind of gesture is something I would like to see a bit
more often but I feel it should be reserved only for the worst of the
worst, where the stench of defeat fills the entire stadium. An example would
be the 59-0 loss the Tennessee Titans suffered at the hands of the New
England Patriots (were it to happen at the Titans’ home stadium).