So this is what’s been on my mind …
Two stories in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday.
One was titled, “Suits on Web Access for the Blind Surge.” The lead: “Businesses with websites that can’t be navigated by the blind are getting pummeled with lawsuits.”
2,250 such suits were filed in 2018. 814 were filed in 2017.
Most, according to the story by Sara Randazzo, are settled for $20,000 or less plus an agreement to improve websites within two years.
One suit cited involved a blind man who was unable to order customized pizzas from the Domino’s website.
The second story involved fallout from tennis star Martina Navratilova’s recent op-ed which stated that transgender girls should not be allowed to compete in girls sporting competitions.
From William McGurn’s story: “In June, two transgender high schoolers in Connecticut made national headlines when they dominated the girls’ state track competition for the second year in a row. Such victories underscore Ms. Navratilova’s argument that if biological men are allowed to compete in women’s sports, girls will not be the winners.”
In the first case, I don’t get it. The blind person is not prevented from ordering a customized pizza just because the website or app isn’t cooperative. They can call – although, maybe that is what is perceived as the injustice of it all, that a person would be forced to interact with another human being in order to complete a transaction.
In the second case … I agree with Navratilova. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. Sometimes gratification isn’t instantaneous. Sometimes you have to wait around long enough until there are enough transgender girls to create a TransOlympics.
From last Saturday’s Journal: “A 2010 study conducted by consultants Bain and Company found that for each additional person over seven members in a decision-making group, decision effectiveness is reduced by approximately 10%.”
So which two members of the Mammoth Lakes Tourism Board need to be eliminated?!? Maybe we need to bring Trump in for some guest Apprentice.
The larger article was titled “The Science of Better Meetings.” My unscientific observation: the younger the person, the more they really dig meetings. It’s like meetings are their way of easing themselves into the work harness. Myself, I feel like every minute spent in a meeting is a minute not spent working on an actual project. But I feel like I have to have these meetings so that I can be an optimum 21st century handholder and engaged communicator.
In short, I have learned to sing Kumbaya in the correct key. Pathetic.
But maybe I’m bitching about meetings simply because I feel plagued by inefficiency these days. That technology hasn’t made me more productive, but less. That all the texts and emails … I feel like I have to answer them in a timely fashion, and if that involves interrupting my chain of thought, I let it happen.
Why do I let it happen?
One more story from the vault. A weekend interview in the Journal from Jan. 26 with Cal Newport (Georgetown University professor) entitled “It’s Not Too Late to Quit Social Media.”
As Newport says, “To have an excellent career, you need periods of uninterrupted concentration to produce work of unambiguous value.”
I don’t know a lot of folks who feel that way right now. For most folks, at least the ones working for a living, life itself is triage – we flail away at a whole slew of stuff every day, and don’t do very much of it well.
The article had a very interesting comment from the comedian Jerry Seinfeld about “Seinfeld.”
“In most TV series, 50% of the time is spent working on the show; 50% of the time is spent dealing with personality, political and hierarchical issues of making something. We [Seinfeld and Larry David] spent 99% of our time writing. Me and Larry. The door was closed. Somebody calls. We’re not taking the call. We were gonna make this thing funny. That’s why the show was good.”
McChesney to McCoy
MHS student Rachel McChesney won the Lions Club speech contest Wednesday for her defense of freedom of the press. An independent press is something I think that people appreciate when they’re reading the news, and appreciate less when they’re making it.
What has surprised me a little bit about this business over the past few years – the increasing number of solicitations I get from public relations people. There are at least five p.r. people per week who send me “free” articles to publish. The return for them, of course, would be clever product placement.
The general rule of thumb is that public relations professionals outnumber journalists by about 5-to-1 these days and I would expect that ratio to get worse given that information is expensive to collect while propaganda comes dirt cheap.
So there are constant offers on the table to buy my free-dom. Constant temptation for me to slide blissfully into a genial inoffensiveness, because I could save money on writers in the process! But there would hardly be any fun or joy in that – even if joy in a very general sense has seemingly taken a backseat these days to analytics and monetization.
I mean, our local Tourism organization has a whole department devoted in part to calculating how much “free” media it’s managed to generate (by plying writers with meals and plane tickets to write cloying stories about the wonders of Mammoth) and how much that media is worth.
It would certainly be interesting if writers, at the end of every story, had to divulge all monetary gifts received during the research and writing of that story. After all, journalists make a big deal about public officials receiving such gifts.
I do miss having Dave McCoy ask me (on the special occasions when I got to see him) if I was having fun – because he knew that if you had fun everything else, including the business, would follow. And if the business didn’t follow, well screw it, he’d just as well do it for free.
So I suppose what I really celebrate is the freedom of the McCoy. Heck, I think I’ve just talked myself into continuing to give a damn. Thanks, Rachel, for the inspiration.