“They expect the audience to be smart, and expect them to think.
You feel like you’re going on a journey.”—Rhea Seehorn on ‘Saul’
(Writer’s note: this entire section is a h/t to Rob “Reenage” O’Connor)
A robot by any other name is called a Roomba.
But in Dallas—where local police sent in a remote device to kill gunman Micah Johnson—that robot should be called a land drone.
As broken down well by Simple Justice, robots are cheap and easy to use. Robots are also programmed by humans to act autonomously; drones are operated/piloted by humans to achieve a certain end. SJ quotes Sean Bielat as saying DPD’s robot did its job by “keeping people out of harm’s way.”
Putting aside the fact that Bielat stands to make a killing off robot sales, he’s right. Using a piece of hardware, a bunch of metal, wires and circuit boards, to save a human life is what robots are good for. That they also took a human life in the process, well, it couldn’t be helped. Sometimes, a guy needs killing, as the Texans like to say.
When faced with no alternatives, yes, using such a device could save lives. But as the piece also points out, the police could’ve waited this guy out and had him in custody to question. With President Obama’s drone program alive and well despite myriad scrutiny, this killing of Micah Johnson bears some of the very same hallmarks: using a machine to kill bad guys.
In this case, semantics absolutely matter. This machine’s prime directive is bomb disposal, but it ain’t no robot. It was a land drone pure and simple. Did the action save further lives? We’ll never know. Did Dallas police have other options available to them other than sending in a land-drone bomb? Yes. Could this methodology be mis- or over-used? Most certainly. The precedent set in Dallas is chilling.
But call it what it is: a land drone. Journalists who don’t are giving robots a bad name.
After the Dallas attack on police officers, many commentators, pundits and citizens instantly retreated to their respective corners—yelling in to a crowded space of opinions and hot air. But the steadiest hand guiding the national conversation has to be Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Brown has shown remarkable staying power, giving interview after interview and making many important statements about public safety.
two surprising things lost in the Dallas tragedy: policing reforms had brought real change to the city. https://t.co/JizDGPcETy
— Will Wants Qualified Journalists Running Newsrooms (@bywillpollock) July 9, 2016
The Dallas police department had been a model of policing reforms, too, with complaints down and trust up. He even urged Black Lives Matter protestors and other folks to join the force and become part of the solution.
“We’re asking cops to do too much,” he said. Any inaction on mental-health funding, for example, always redounds to local police.
Dallas Police Chief David Brown is CY’s Disruptor (and healer) of the Week. Well done, sir.
Time for some self-promotion! I’ve got a blog tour coming up in support of “Leaving Triscuit: Conscious Goodbyes, Happy Homecomings” and I’d really love it if you could join me. What’s the premise of the book?
We all feel stress about leaving our pets while away—either on vacation or for work. With the help of four experts we dive in to some metaphysical but still real-world solutions that will change the way you and your animals cope with travel. With picture messaging, regular communication and flipping the script on stress, you can grow your relationship with your pets and be free to focus on your trip.
My baby girl Triscuit inspired this Amazon eBook. When I was about to depart on a long 2.5 week trip through Ireland, I felt enormous stress. And she felt it, too. I promised myself I’d produce a project that would help solve this common problem, so here we are.
We’ll have lots of goodies during this tour, so please: join in the fun.
Back in CrankyYank Vol. 13 I reviewed AMC’s Better Call Saul as one of the best scripted shows on the teevee. Well it turns out the Emmys agree: the prequel show to Breaking Bad earned seven nominations altogether, including best drama, lead and supporting actor. The show has tremendous competition, and Game of Thrones usually dominates. But since Saul was shut out last year, perhaps this is Saul’s year. The show is a masterclass in “textured storytelling,” as Seehorn says above.
I still think Seehorn should’ve been nominated in the supporting-actor category. Her earnest and mindful portrayal is the perfect foil for Jimmy’s shenanigans. Slant magazine pretty well nails it in describing the show’s achievements: “Each moment is compact, leading to the next with unpredictable, behaviorally astute precision.”
The 68th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will air 18 September 2016. Watch Anthony Anderson’s reaction to getting nominated:
All too often tech companies over design their products. Apple, for example, is obsessed with the convergence of mobile iOS and its OSX (desktop software now known as macOS)—to the detriment of its products and customers (this one included).
Enter WizGear, the frightfully simple doohickey that attaches to your car vent and forms a robust and strong magnetic connections with your cell phone.
When I drive on the highway, about 50 to 60 percent of drivers have the phone in their hands, up to their faces, while trying to navigate the road. This device at least keeps you a bit safer so you’re not fumbling around looking for your phone and risking an accident. Grade: A
Now this is what I call a home remedy: Warren Jeffs used olive oil to wiggle out of his GPS-tracking ankle bracelet and escape his home detention; CNN reports that the prosecutor wanted him remanded to custody because he was a flight risk (CNN)… Former President George W. Bush rocked a little to hard to “Battle Hymn” (CNN)… Jennifer Anniston wrote an op-ed for Huffington Post declaring her independence from inane pregnancy questions (HuffPo).
— Will Wants Qualified Journalists Running Newsrooms (@bywillpollock) July 14, 2016
Out of tragedy and hate, learning. Healing. Kindness.
I had been wondering how some of the nation’s youth could even begin to process a horrific event like the Dallas police shooting. So I was so pleased to see Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News interview a man who went out of his way to explain what it meant to his son—and that we should make loving each other a priority. That boy is lucky to have a dad like that.
Learning and growth out of tragedy also comes in the form of random acts of kindness. Just have a look at Joe Fryer’s piece from Dallas that shows love in action:
That’s a wrap guys—we’ll see you back here next Thursday at 2 p.m. Enjoy your weekend and remember to spread love and make strangers friends.
Will Pollock is an Atlanta-based freelance multimedia journalist focusing on retail, marketing, real estate, travel, technology and human interest stories. He is the author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—and check out the book links below.
Make sure to comment often—cranky loves company.