Friday, April 30, 2010

What's a crisis? Just about everything, apparently

How do you define the word "crisis"?

To read the news, that word covers just about everything. Here's a short, top-line summary of news topics from the last 24 hours featuring the word, "crisis."
financial crisis
debt crisis
Catholic abuse crisis
Madagascar crisis
oil spill crisis
energy crisis
Korean military crisis
Boy Scout abuse crisis
Asian financial crisis
Stephen Baldwin's cash crisis
Niger food crisis
Thailand's political crisis
MGM's financial crisis
school budget crisis
mortgage crisis
California budget crisis
Iraq election crisis
health care crisis
Iceland volcanic crisis
Canadian political crisis
student debt crisis
Toyota sudden acceleration crisis
Vermont dairy crisis
food crisis
Florida avocado crisis
Latino youth crisis
illegal immigration crisis
global warming crisis
Indian radiation crisis
obesity crisis
Now I'm sure that Stephen Baldwin considers his cash flow a serious issue. Even a crisis. But for me, it doesn't even come close to that definition.

How about something bigger? The Iceland volcano crisis. It shut down European air travel for days and cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue. A true crisis? I'm sure it was to the stranded passengers, or to any airline employee who lost a job as a result. To me? No, not really.

Surely the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico counts as a crisis. That will cost billions in cleanup and damage wildlife, tourism and fishing/shrimping in the Gulf states. It will probably even increase the cost to fill up my tank. Yes, paying that extra $0.20/gallon will suck. But to me--it's not a crisis.

The economy? Okay, I'll go with that one. The effect of the mortgage meltdown and recession have without a doubt affected my economic well-being, and I surely would be living a much more comfortable life if certain economic opportunities hadn't evaporated. So yes, by that sort of estimation, the state of the economy is a crisis.

My point? "Crisis" is entirely subjective. It's a cheap word used to push news stories. If it's a crisis, it must be important. Sure, it's important. But usually only important to someone else.

The biggest crisis in my life right now is a loved one undergoing surgery and treatment for cancer. This crisis eclipses every other issue that concerns me or even holds my interest.

When a news story tells me something is a crisis, it's telling me what should be important to me. It may be preaching something that I happen to agree with, or that I am truly concerned about. But please: Stop cheapening the word, "crisis."

I'll decide on my own if it's important to me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cooliris - Pretty Cool

This is a pretty cool way to display photos or whatever on your blog. A 3-D browsable photo wall. Check it out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Echoes of Obama's National Police Force – in Chicago

There's a push in Chicago to bring in the National Guard to help fight crime.

The idea sounds eerily similar to President Obama's proposal of a "civilian national security force" back on the 2008 campaign trail.
"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
Is it a coincidence that this push is coming from Obama's own backyard?

Federal troops enforcing domestic law. The very idea sends a chill--and not a nice one.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spirit Carry-on Baggage Fees: The Corporate Spin

In the corporate world, sometimes the spin is staggering. Having written marketing and PR communications for over 10 years, I find it quite easy to read between the lines and discern what a piece is really trying to communicate (or cover up). Sometimes the spin is so outrageous and exaggerated that I have to do a double-take.

I recently received an email from Spirit Airlines extolling the virtues of its new carry-on baggage policy, which states that your second carry-on will cost you an extra $30.

Here's what went through my mind as I read it.

(Click image to enlarge)