And Another Thing

(notes from a grumpy septuagenarian)

By Jim Mullen

Emergency Once Removed

As our nation lurches into a worrisome and contentious period in our history, I’ll share some less-than-earth-shaking thoughts I have had recently (if you open your window, you may hear me shouting).

I’m inclined never to take any drug advertised on TV where disclaimers of negative effects take many times longer to describe than the singular positive impact. I’ll make do with my ailment.

How come whenever I switch to a Premier Soccer League telecast, no matter what point in the game I tune in, the score is always 0-0 (or nil-nil)! Do these guys ever score?

Someone, explain to me why we drive on parkways and park on driveways – really.

Why would Major League Baseball (MLB) EVER allow Amazon, Apple, or Facebook to defile the game with poorly announced (and transmitted) coverage? And will MLB’s umpires advertise FTX on their shirtsleeves next season? That’s crypto-creepy.

Why do networks persist in proclaiming “BREAKING NEWS” when the story has already broken? Does the same news “break” twice? Three times? And what’s with the continuous, repetitive (ad nauseum) trailers at the bottom of the screen? Can’t they allow us 10 minutes between such intrusions on our consciousness? However, if North Korea, Russia, or China launch ICBMs I would prefer to have that information as soon as possible – almost everything else can wait 10 minutes! At least.

OK, I never understood why anyone used Twitter – now I really wonder why anyone still would! Maybe, just maybe, we could use this period of “Twitter Agonistes” to remember how to write and mail letters, dial a friend’s phone number, and even send an email. And then there’s Facebook – society existed a long time before it was necessary to convey to perfect strangers that you had a good time last night!

Artificial Intelligence is here – soon robots will mix our drinks, no doubt to perfection (as defined by an algorithm), and there inevitably will arise an expectation for an appropriate tip for table service for our robotic wait staff. But what might the consequences be if the robot assesses the tip as insufficient? In my idle moments, I wonder about that.

The radicals of my youth used to proclaim that “information is power” – but I think what they meant then, and what their technological descendants mean today, is the control of information is where the “power” lies. That throws the burden of discernment of what is true, and false, back at the rest of us.

Tough times are ahead, perhaps more difficult than any our country has experienced to date. All of us must keep trying, as best we can, to enjoy the good, condemn the bad, and celebrate and respect our legitimate differences.

To those who appreciated my writings, whether silently or with a positive response, thank you. To everyone else, a civil dialogue would be appreciated but is not mandatory. You are all free to go and…

Enjoy the Holidays…


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Jim has spent 3 decades in emergency management, including 12 years at the local level as director of the City of Seattle’s Office of Emergency Management and 8 and a half years as Washington State’s Emergency Management Division Director. Jim retired from state service in March 2013. Jim also served as President of the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) from January 2011 to October 2012. He is currently sole proprietor of “EM Northwest Consulting” based in Seattle.

Information on this Blog is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not engaged in rendering professional advice or services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with an professional adviser. Opinions expressed here represent the viewpoints of individuals authoring the blog and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the Center of Excellence.