Showing posts from August, 2018

Anyone Can Be A Great Federal Communicator

As Federal communicators, the single most important thing we do is not to “say things well.” It is, rather, to ensure that important things are said accurately in the first place. Of course, most of us do not sit at the table when decisions are made about “important things” to say. But we can ask questions to obtain answers to that question in writing. The good Federal communicator has to be willing to say, “Forgive me but I need some clarification. What is this program about? How does it connect to the mission?” The good Federal communicator has to be willing to say, “Maybe I missed the announcement of this initiative. Can someone point me to where I can find it in our strategy?” This is not to say that you should be lazy, and fail to do the necessary work of research yourself, for example by looking on the Intranet at the most recent strategic plan of your agency. You should be monitoring news clips offered internally at the very least. It is to say that Federal communication, by i…

How To Rise Above An Idiot

We were sitting at the kiddush and this guy walked up and introduced himself.

"How are you, how are you, Shabbat Shalom!" he said.

The man was fairly elderly--an octogenarian, as it turned out.

We went quickly from the traditional Sabbath hearing about how beautiful love is ("it's like two oranges when one half meets the other") to a very detailed self-assessment as to his vigor.
"I'm in my forties here," he said, patting his chest, "But down here (and at this he gestured just enough to make me gag on my kugel) I am twenty years old."

Now, this is a synagogue, it's a House of God, and although the Holy Ark containing the Torahs was upstairs, only a ceiling separated us from it.

The man continued to talk completely inappropriately and offensively, really offensively, in a way that wouldn't have been okay even outside of a shul.
"I'll take my women only till the age of forty," he said, "and they can't…

When Rape Is A Rite Of Passage

“The abuses suffered by Menahem are so widespread the men who lived through them speak about their childhood traumas with a horrifyingly nonchalant, matter-of-fact attitude — as if the rapes against minors had turned into a revoltingly diffused but seldom spoken rite of passage.” The fish rots from the head. There is a new movie out called “M,” which hasn’t hit Amazon yet so I have to rely on a movie review for the details. But the story of this young man, who grows up to confront the men who raped him as a young child, highlights something extremely important about child sex trafficking in the ultra-religious community:It is the rule and not the exception. Ultra-religious clergy who engage in child sex trafficking may do so by engaging in any or all of the following behaviors: Setting themselves up as representatives of God, and inserting themselves into religious ritual as authority figures to the child and the parent.Engaging in child sexual abuse directly, and/or trafficking child…

Notes on: “Bridging the Gap: Working with the Media”: A Federal Communicators Network/Partnership for Public Service Even

I. BackgroundEvent Title: “Bridging the Gap: Working with the Media,” Partnership for Public Service/Federal Communicators Network joint event, August 21, 2018, Washington DC Disclaimer: Notes taken by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Dr. Blumenthal’s attendance and distribution of these notes does not represent her agency or any other organization or entity. All opinions expressed at the event belong to the person expressing them. Nonpartisan: This was a nonpartisan training event that touched on matters directly at the intersection of civil service and politics. It should be clear that these notes are nonpartisan in nature and that the note-taker is not using them, explicitly or implicitly, advance or detract from any political agenda. Accordingly, notes are not altered or abridged other than to compensate for human limitations associated with note-taking. Data Quality: Data quality is limited by the author’s ability to transcribe the notes as they were spoken and by the fact that the author’…

You Are Talking To A Scared Five-Year-Old

They fuck you up, your mum and dad./ They may not mean to, but they do./ They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn/ By fools in old-style hats and coats,/ Who half the time were soppy-stern/ And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man. /It deepens like a coastal shelf. /Get out as early as you can, /And don’t have any kids yourself. - Philip Larkin, This Be The Verse Today a colleague stopped by my office.

"I see you're letting the gray grow out," she said. "It looks good."

"Oh no," I replied, laughing. "Time to get the Clairol Number Five, I guess."

On the outside our bodies age. On the inside, we rarely feel as old as we look. Sometimes it's 30, maybe 15.

In times of stress, I think it could well be younger than 5.

Why is that?

Because when we have conflict with other people, and they react with the kind of criticism we may have gotten from our parents, a…

Should I Trust This Content? Five Things To Think About

As a writer, I spend a great deal of time reading content, reviewing images, and watching video broadcasts.
Notice that I didn’t call any of this “news.” I can’t anymore, I really and sincerely cannot, due to the abundance of discrediting factors out there.

Here are five things to think about when you’re consuming…whatever.
#1. Power Games & Quantitative Distortions Take a seemingly simple and straightforward kind of information, for example: crime statistics. How easy is it to put a poor person of color in jail for stealing a candy bar? What about a wealthy politician who deliberately votes in ways that harm the community, but benefit supporters? You don’t get contextual information from numbers. Instead, here’s what you hear: “Numbers don’t lie.”

Another problem with understanding crime, of course, is that the true numbers are distorted by lack of reporting and adequate representation to conviction. If victims of a certain type of crime — let’s say human trafficking — are drugged …

How To Have An Idea

When I was growing up, writing an article was a laborious task. We used electric typewriters that made a loud "clacking" noise and it was virtually impossible to do much more than assemble one's thoughts on index cards and then type them, in linear fashion, paragraph by paragraph.

Today the world of creativity lies at even a child's feet. One need only speak the words, and text magically appears on the screen, ready to be shaped and shuffled at will.

Despite the wide availability of expressive tools, contradictory ("double-bind") messages abound.

Explicitly we are told: "put your thinking caps on," "be creative," "innovate."

Implicitly however, we get the message--particularly at school and at work--that one should not stray beyond the boundaries of "acceptable ideas," and "we all know what those are."

Should we ignore these admonishments, and proceed in ways that challenge the status quo uncomfortably, the &quo…

Human Trafficking Arrests Are Up. Now, It’s Time for Disclosure.

People are impatient for the arrests to begin but they may not realize just how much is underway. Specifically, an analysis of the running list of human trafficking-related arrests at revealed that arrests have jumped 234% in slightly more than a year and a half.

That’s significant.

The anonymous Patriots at Qmap (so named because the site focuses on what #QAnon is telling us about current events) have been collecting headlines about human trafficking related arrests beginning on the day President Trump was inaugurated and continuing through the present. The purpose of this post is to highlight the progress that has been made thus far.

Before we do that, let’s consider briefly how the data is limited:
It does not go back in time to compare the current level and quality of arrests with prior years. A number of efforts within the Federal government to combat human trafficking date as far back as 2000.We don’t have the criteria used to determine which arrests were worth includi…

QAnon and the Sociology of Knowledge: Lessons from An Interview Segment On C-SPAN

Here’s a neat partisan hat trick: present your power-enhancing ideology as the default, while portraying anyone who questions you critically as a dangerous political extremist by default. On August 10, 2018, C-SPAN featured a segment in which host Pedro Echeverría interviewed Ohio State University Assistant Professor Thomas Wood about the so-called “‘QAnon conspiracy theory and what drives some supporters of President Trump to believe in it.” (Click here for the link.) For those who are not familiar with this phenomenon, QAnon, or Q, is an anonymous provider of news and opinion using an Internet forum to deliver an ongoing series of questions and statements. The posts, which focus on an effort to rid the United States of pervasive corruption, started roughly at the beginning of November 2017 and continue to the present time. Sociologists of knowledge can find utility in a close read of this interview. It is a case study in the social production of knowledge, specifically the ways in w…