Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Beating Death of an Innocent

Last Thursday on the far south side of Chicago, a 16-year old boy was beaten to death after stumbling into a gang fight. You've probably heard of this story.

The day after the incident, however, it didn't draw much attention. While mentioned on the news, it wasn't really 'news'. Unfortunately, the death of a young black man in a city doesn't bring the same attention most other murders do.

By the weekend, though, that began to change. But not for good reasons. On Saturday, Fox Chicago obtained a cell phone video showing the incident. Immediately, other news organizations picked up the story and showed stills from the video. All of a sudden, the police began to feel great pressure to act as the outcry cause by the brutality so apparent on the video was loud.

By Monday, the story had gone national. Links to it were found on the homepages of CNN, MSNBC, and a link to the video was the headline on Drudge. You see, this week Chicago is also finding out its Olympic fate. The combination of the ramifications of such a public brutal murder on the Olympic bid and the presence of the video itself meant the story was definitely now 'news'.

In a city where the murder of young black men is all too frequent, and usually overlooked, it is no longer the case. For now at least...

Think back to your own knowledge of this story. When did you find out about it? Was it just recently? Think about the implications media coverage has on what we deem important.

You see, this incident was not the only occurrence of innocent death at the end of last week. You may also have heard about this one, but more likely not. On Friday, two teens were gunned down in North Lawndale (one block from where several of my Little Leaguers have lived) on their front porch. There have been no arrests in this incident. And much less public outcry. Sadly, these college kids were not safe even at home and it doesn't seem to be that big a deal. There certainly isn't the national microscope on this incident. And I can't help but wonder, is that because there wasn't a dramatic violent video for these murders?

Until these tragedies are felt with the same emotion every time they occur as the beating death has wrought this week, we will have a problem. There is a scourge of violence amongst certain communities in our country, and work needs to be accelerated to end it. The equitable education of all our youngsters is a right we have not done enough to achieve. If anything good can come of these incidents, my prayer is that it results in fewer of them down the road.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Health Care

As it seems like we all are taking some time to consider health care in our country, I thought this article was well worth passing on.

The Atlantic prefaces it this way:
After the needless death of his father, the author, a business executive, began a personal exploration of a health-care industry that for years has delivered poor service and irregular quality at astonishingly high cost. It is a system, he argues, that is not worth preserving in anything like its current form. And the health-care reform now being contemplated will not fix it. Here’s a radical solution to an agonizing problem.
With no further ado, an article some have called a must-read, How American Health Care Killed My Father.

(ht: JT)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

In Defense of HSR

Good analysis by Yonah Freemark on why High Speed Rail has potential.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The Ricky Rubio Situation

A lot of fanfare is being made out of the fact that Ricky Rubio is not going to be coming to NBA and play with the Timberwolves this year after all. Many are blaming David Kahn for the situation. Personally, I think that's shortsighted. The only upside in my mind to him coming over now would have been drawing more fans. Maybe that would be a good thing, but for the future of the Wolves, I think Rubio developing for another couple years in Spain is fine.

Let's be honest, the Wolves aren't making the playoffs next year, and probably not the year after that either. So what is it setting them back? If they find out what they have in Flynn, they're that much further along. Many, such as The Sports Guy have been pretty down on Kahn. Simmons recently posted on Twitter, "Hey Kahn defenders: You think a team that's BLEEDING MONEY wanted to bottom out again, take on bad salaries & wait 2 yrs for Rubio? Really?" This was the latest in several posts directed at Kahn's maneuvering. I disagree, and so here's what I wrote The Sports Guy:

Okay Bill,
We need you to write a little further on this Timberwolves situation. As a fan (yes, I know that makes me biased) I think you're being a little harsh in regard to their draft results.

I'm with you in thinking Kahn deserved to be questioned based on his lack of experience. But now that we have him, let's see what happens.

You've said yourself (in the New Yorker): "Just play your best five or six guys and figure the rest out later. In the old days, nobody gave a crap about positions." You've also said that teams in the draft should take the best available player and not draft for need. So why so down on the Wolves for taking the two players they thought were the best left on the draft board? You've said yourself that you like both Rubio and Flynn. And based on the LV league, I think I'd still rather have Flynn than Curry. Are both players PG? Yes. But how disastrous would it be to play two great PGs together? Would a team be terrible if they played Chris Paul and Deron Williams together with a great wing, a great inside scorer, and a great rebounder?

What if Rubio and Flynn are nearly as good as the aforementioned? With a good shooter on the wing (Ellington) and the scorer and rebounder extraordinaire inside (Jefferson and Love), how far away are you from being a legit presence in the league?
I can think of much worse combinations. And further, if Rubio or Flynn do not pan out, you are still not in bad shape. I think the Wolves thought, and I think correctly so, we're not good enough to draft for need, let's take the best players available, and in a couple years, figure out which parts to keep in order to turn this thing into a championship.

I'd further note that I have to agree with what what Ken Berger of CBSSports observes in regard to the situation:

So Rubio will mature and get better -- albeit against sub-NBA competition -- and Kahn's team will begin the rebuilding process with a very capable point guard in Flinn. Can the two play together in the same backcourt in 2011-12? Time will tell. But in the meantime, Kahn moves forward with a formidable asset in Rubio. Even if he never plays a single game in Minnesota.

Kahn is quickly becoming the most mysterious executive in the NBA, tearing a page straight from the book written by his mentor, Donnie Walsh. He is humorless and needs to brush up on his people skills -- despite the fact that he's a former member of the media. (Maybe this explains why he is a former member.) But I'll give him credit for this much: It took a certain amount of gumption to welcome a controversy like this with the very first and most important decision of his regime. Whether it ultimately works out or not is very much an unknown. Say Kahn is in over his head if you want; you might ultimately be correct. But I have no problem giving Kahn credit for being unafraid of Fegan and all the contractual entanglements that came with Rubio. Enjoy Barcelona, Ricky. See you in 2011.

What are your thoughts?