Care to Have Independence? Anyone? Scotland? No, Okay

This is a pretty good analysis about how and why the pollsters got it wrong, courtesy of our favorite bunch of quants over at FiveThirtyEight:
Why Pollsters Think They Underestimated ‘No’ In Scotland | FiveThirtyEight.

The final numbers are fascinating and I am particularly enamored of the “Shy Tory” argument, which basically says they want to side one way but don’t want to be seen siding that way because of all of the passion on the other side. It’s a very good argument. Anyone who has ever been around elections understands it. Nate Silver expands the thought.

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The Scottish Parliament building, a fascinating piece of modern architecture that stands out like a sore thumb against a backdrop of old Edinburgh.

In the aftermath of the Scottish vote, I feel compelled to roll my eyes at all of the “fake Scots” in the U.S. who are such dedicated separatists, who blame the English for the tragic history of the Scots peoples, who beat their breasts about the terrible oppression at the hands of the English overlords for so many years.

And then they quote Burns. And have a wee dram and toast to “The Forty-Five” and refight the Battle of Culloden and vow that they will take up arms in the next Jacobite rising.

But here’s the thing: isn’t that just a bunch of romanticized twaddle? Haven’t there been two or three too many viewings of “Braveheart” in this camp?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Scotland. Edinburgh is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. I would go back any day of any week, if I could. But, I’m also a practical Unionist and a lover of London as well.

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Your faithful correspondent, mugging for the camera on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, in 2010. From my attire and from the sky, can you guess it is the middle of summer?


It seems to me that in 2014 the world is so intertwined that to separate one part of a major power and become a small power unto yourself seems a disaster waiting to happen. What about currency? And border patrols? What about taxes, the national health scheme, compulsory education, state-sponsored higher education, bank regulations, environmental regulations, the Navy, the power grid, elections, separation of powers — or not, weights and measures, language? The list is endless.

And, ultimately, that’s what those “Shy Tory” voters realized. It sounds good in a ripping good speech, but when you have to live it, well, let’s be prudent about it. To those abroad that are “sad for Scotland,” I say this: the people of Scotland voted. Overwhelmingly they said “nay.”

And, of course, I will remind those American Scots, pining away for a life in a motherland that they do not know and probably have never set foot in, of some other words of Robbie Burns: The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.

Pasadena’s Oscar-Winning Problem

Questions plague Pasadena college over Dustin Lance Black debacle – latimes.com.

Here’s the thing: I have spent the better part of my career in media relations work. And most of the last decade or so on media relations work in colleges and universities. I have been a spokesperson during tragedies, I have answered questions when good things have happened, I have stood up in front of God and the New York Times and punted like a son-of-a-bitch over and over and over again and managed to look like I knew what in the hell I was saying.

And I know one thing about Pasadena City College and Dustin Lance Black: there is something bad, bad wrong here. And I will guarantee you — I will absolutely back it up with money that I do not have — that somebody at Pasadena City College is lying through their damn teeth and it probably has nothing to do with Mr. Black.

This is an object lesson in how to do public relations wrong. This is how stupid people get institutions in hot water. And this is about how when you are the stupid party and the other party is whip smart, you will look like an even larger dumbass. And that bit of ‘dumbassery’ imprints.

Dustin Lance Black won the friggin’ Oscar. He’s one of our finest writers. He’s a great activist. He has a compelling story about community college helping him to get to the top. And you don’t embrace that for everything that it’s worth?

I had never heard of Pasadena City College before this. Now, whenever I hear the name, I’ll think, “Oh, yeah. That’s the place that fucked over Dustin Lance Black.” Morons.

Marketers on MLK Day: ‘I Have a…Really Bad Idea!’ – PRNewser

 

Marketers on MLK Day: ‘I Have a…Really Bad Idea!’ – PRNewser.

This is why marketers have such a bad wrap. It’s because IDIOTS are so common in this industry. I can’t imagine anything more crass than trying to use the legacy of a slain civil rights leader to flack your product. It’s wrong on at least a hundred different levels.

Popular vs. Best

This from the great Seth Godin last month:
Seth’s Blog: My most popular blog posts this year.

My most popular blog posts this year

…weren’t my best ones.

As usual, the most popular music wasn’t the best recorded this year either. Same for the highest-grossing movies, restaurants and politicians doing fundraising.

“Best” is rarely the same as “popular.”

Which means that if you want to keep track of doing your best work, you’re going to have to avoid the distraction of letting the market decide if you’ve done a good job or not.

That’s true. I would hope that none of my posts are terrible, but occasionally something hits big — or has legs — and I’m left scratching my head. Sometimes, it’s when something hasn’t gotten a lot of play; sometimes it’s when another person directs people to it; sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw.

Whatever it is, I’m always grateful that people read what I put out there. I’m particularly gratified when someone takes the time to comment — even if it’s just a simple “thanks.”

As I think about this, I have always found that this idea of popular and best rather curious. I am immediately reminded of a time a few years back when I received a “significant award” for news writing. I couldn’t believe the story that was picked won. I had written much, much better stories that year, I thought.

What I learned about best, popular and the fickle nature of audiences I learned by developing audiences for the theatre. These things translate:

1. Treat all assignments equally.
2. Always do your best work.
3. Be proud of your efforts.
4. Say “thank you” and mean it.
5. Be grateful and and a little bit humble.
6. Never, ever believe your own P.R.

If you think that those things have nothing to do with popularity, you’d be wrong.

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot

 

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot.

I don’t, as they say, “do football,” but this piece just solidifies my love for Chris Kluwe, one of our most vocal allies.

David Miranda Is Nobody’s Errand Boy

David Miranda Is Nobody’s Errand Boy.

This is a really well-done long-format piece from BuzzFeed on the continuing David Miranda/Glenn Greenwald saga. I find it hard to be objective about this because I feel so strongly that Miranda is being singled out for his partner Greenwald’s role in the Snowden/NSA leaks. It’s an egregious use of power from the U.S. and the U.K., IMHO.

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David Miranda and the title card for the BuzzFeed story. | Photo: Jimmy Clark for BuzzFeed.