Nagin……

The comments I’m receiving via email about Ray Nagin’s lawyer Robert Jenkins entering Federal court to try a major criminal case tomorrow are pretty amusing, especially since Jenkins, when he isn’t doing the legal pundit thing for WDSU is known mainly for his practice in New Orleans state courts. The consensus of the emails is the guy is in over his head but that Judge Berrigan will cut him some slack to compensate.

It is against that backdrop of private thoughts being shared with Slabbed about tomorrow’s criminal trial of former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that I viewed the media stories building up to the trial. One, by NOLA.com’s Rich Rainey and Juliet Linderman relied on interviews with ol’ reliables like the BGR’s Janet Howard along with legal pundits Dane Ciolino and Grey Sexton, who both ran on at the mouth spouting tired legal cliches that bore absolutely no resemblance to what the highly accomplished, successful lawyers that I speak with were sharing with me.

Meantime over at the Advocate Gordon Russell, who covered and helped expose major facets of the public corruption at the heart of the Nagin Indictment, wrote a great piece on the topic. Gordon didn’t have to rely on any interviews since he literally lived the events from a front row seat so there are no interviews or tired cliches in his piece no sir, just Joe Friday which is exactly how old school guys like me appreciate it.

All that said there is something tangentially related to the two stories that I was immediately drawn to in the number of people commenting to each. As I write this Gordon’s piece, at the Facebook only Advocate, has one Facebook comment while Rainey and Linderman’s piece has sixty, including mainstays like Muspench and company who are folks that I term ‘high quality’ commenters. This situation is part traffic but is is also undeniably part commenting platform. Large swaths of the media runs in herds folks which is why business statisticians have the bottom 2 quartiles (or 3 quintiles) when quantifying business sector financial analysis. The following video explains:

In any event like everyone else we’ll be following the Nagin trial. Besides Gordon I’ll be looking to Jason over at AZ for context. This week ought to fun for the muckraking community down here.

History will record Advocate Owner John Georges as either a Media Visionary or Complete Buffoon

I’m intrigued by John George’s business plan of going head to head with the Times Picayune in New Orleans, a business strategy that literally bucks 30 years of industry consolidation trends. The talent Georges has poached from NOLA Media Group to beef up the New Orleans edition of the Advocate did not come on the cheap. Since the Newhouse pay scale is reputed to be the industry’s most generous, even in these austere days for the print media business, the employee morale impacts of that fact regarding the newbies in NOLA on the staff in Baton Rouge is undeniable as journalists are only human too:

Baton Rouge Advocate to reduce workforce through buyouts of veteran employees ~ AP Story via NOLA Media Group

Maybe we’re the Buffoons here at Slabbed for failing to see the wisdom of making a major investment in a declining industry in a declining advertising market.  In the construction market, when this type of thing happens it is usually a strategic play where one of the two competitors ends up buying the other out.  History tells us that the Newhouse clan will not sell the Times Picayune.

The winner is usually the one with the most net worth to throw away in the competition. Using that metric alone indicates Georges is pissing in the wind since assets in a declining industry can usually be bought on the super cheap via auction.  We’ll see.

Dominicales Omnibus: Altis tenuibusque conciliat!

Indeed it does does folks because the news gods favor Slabbed New Media this morning.  First up because you heard it here first:

Catching up with South Mississippi’s Gene Taylor and Trent Lott ~ Da Noose and Nelson

(Gene) saved the county up to $45,000 in labor.

Does he consider getting back into politics?

“Sometimes I do,” he said. “Like when I see this mess with the National Flood Insurance (Program) — Congress holding a gun to people’s heads and the best they’re offering is a year extension.”

It’s frustrating, he said, the inflated premiums, “which will adversely effect so many people down here and knowing that I know there’s a better solution.”

Indeed there is a better way. Michael and Karen’s piece also solved a mystery as the Dunbar Pier is close by. Altis Tenuibusque comes at a price thus my surprise at seeing the public pier fixed a few weeks back and not knowing it was a community production. And yeah Gene, please run because this area needs you in Washington!

That said the advantages of Altis Tenuibusque are also very clear as today’s missive will illustrate but first we have major news from the New Orleans Media Congroovancy as Ace Investigative Reporter Nell Nolan leaves the House of News to join the Lucky Coin Today. A fair read of these pages well illustrates why Slabbed New Media has come to conclude that Nolan was Ashton Phelps best hire bar none during his tenure as publisher of the T-P and Nell goes back farther than that to the old States Item, which I well remember because we used to get it in Waveland back in the olden days. Plus if Nell ever decides to leave the news biz a very lucrative career pumping the pinks awaits. Either way I’m a fan for life.

Now for the best political gossip from Jefferson Parish bar none because I have it.  I’m hearing from multiple sources it is likely that Parish Prez John Young will not seek re election. In the event that prediction comes to fruition here are the scenarios: Continue reading “Dominicales Omnibus: Altis tenuibusque conciliat!”

Are we ready to talk about the NOLA area media landscape again?

I think I’m getting close. To kick start things I’ll confess to watching Errol and the Noisemakers every Friday night at 7:00PM on WYES (or later on my DVR). Those of you on the coast from the Pass east are likely scratching your heads but rest assured Erroll and gang are the NOLA equivalent of WLOX This Week except better. Stephanie Grace has been on the past few weeks with Errol and she is positively beaming with enthusiasm about the new NOLA media landscape. Hammerman back in early May, not so much.  And then there is Perlstein.  😉

Just to prepare everyone I’m likely to have a unique viewpoint as is my wont. Meantime the people poaching continues:

Veteran T-P reporter will spearhead Advocate’s push into St. John, St. Charles parishes ~ The Advocate

Stay tuned.

Chaos theoria adhiberetur: Vehuntur Ursus

“Primus homo per parietem semper est cruentatus … semper”

The above is a rough translation of the subject header on a congratulatory email I received on December 19, 2012 from a successful, highly respected trial lawyer. I think most everyone reading this recalls the events of that day. For the lawyer that wrote me, making US legal history prevailing in the first decision of its kind in the Nation was meaningful. The decision under the US Speech Act even made the news on several new media outlets in two countries along with a Canadian newspaper but nary was heard any word from the local main stream media.

But this trial lawyer was talking about more than just my court victory because the guy is a consummate thinker/technology visionary. By harnessing the power of this medium called the internet I’ve lost track of how many high achieving high quality individuals I’ve met, first on the Yahoo Fiance Boards and later through my 5 years plus doing Slabbed.  Occasionally, we’re even blessed such people stop in with us and comment, sharing their rich life experiences with the community.  There is a magic here that is undeniable, in large part due to a diverse community of sincere commenters that are mostly what Sly termed “everyday people” back in the day.  Somehow, in today’s day and age when media outlets are branded as conservative or liberal, Slabbed manages to attract (and occasionally piss off) both demographics but since we’re equal opportunity muckrakers no one seems to hold it against us for long.

I mention all this because my post yesterday discussing attribution got a response from Gordon Russell.  We agreed that it was worth sharing since some of ya’ll may make like The boy named Sue and come away with a different point of view since we were hard on NOLA Media Group yesterday.  It also gives me a chance to remind everyone commenting here that people are paying attention and by people I mean the high end demographic that forms the majority of the readership, along with various and sundry Goatherders.  As I told Nowdy back in 2007 the key to difference making wasn’t the quantity of readers, rather their quality. Yesterday’s email chat with Gordon, in light of a few links that were left on the post I did make it a good time to tackle the general subject of the secular change occurring in the media industry, which has been an occasional topic here since since the advent of the “Sometimes Picayune”.

Yesterday Steve and Whitmergate nailed it in comments and understood the connection I was making involving what most people would consider obscure applied mathematics. Let’s start with ‘Gate:

Power, sex, politics, money, corruption, death … fractals all– complex, universal and chaotic

And what do fractals have to do with Chaos Theory? The link ‘Gate left explains it far better than Wiki:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on. These phenomena are often described by fractal mathematics, which captures the infinite complexity of nature. Many natural objects exhibit fractal properties, including landscapes, clouds, trees, organs, rivers etc, and many of the systems in which we live exhibit complex, chaotic behavior. Recognizing the chaotic, fractal nature of our world can give us new insight, power, and wisdom. For example, by understanding the complex, chaotic dynamics of the atmosphere, a balloon pilot can “steer” a balloon to a desired location. By understanding that our ecosystems, our social systems, and our economic systems are interconnected, we can hope to avoid actions which may end up being detrimental to our long-term well-being.

Do these concepts apply to Slabbed? How about other blogs and forums? Do they apply to the media as a whole? Absolutely. In fact during our days covering the post Katrina wind-water insurance litigation we applied those and other concepts to organizations like insurance companies, which in turn attracted a group of high quality nationally known trial lawyers along with the creme of the local bar both here on the coast and Louisiana to this blog. There is a method to the madness publishing Slabbed. So with all this in mind here is the story behind the story: Continue reading “Chaos theoria adhiberetur: Vehuntur Ursus”

Dispiciendum chaos: Mulier involvamini in FBI specillum in priores sancti Caroli DA mortuum esse inventum

Chaotic dynamics

The map defined by x → 4 x (1 – x) and y → x + y if x + y < 1 (x + y – 1 otherwise) displays sensitivity to initial conditions. Here two series of x and y values diverge markedly over time from a tiny initial difference.

The map defined by x → 4 x (1 – x) and y → x + y if x + y < 1 (x + y – 1 otherwise) displays sensitivity to initial conditions. Here two series of x and yvalues diverge markedly over time from a tiny initial difference.

In common usage, “chaos” means “a state of disorder”.[7] However, in chaos theory, the term is defined more precisely. Although there is no universally accepted mathematical definition of chaos, a commonly used definition says that, for a dynamical system to be classified as chaotic, it must have the following properties:[8]

  1. it must be sensitive to initial conditions;
  2. it must be topologically mixing; and
  3. its periodic orbits must be dense.

The requirement for sensitive dependence on initial conditions implies that there is a set of initial conditions of positive measure which do not converge to a cycle of any length.

Sensitivity to initial conditions

Sensitivity to initial conditions means that each point in such a system is arbitrarily closely approximated by other points with significantly different future trajectories. Thus, an arbitrarily small perturbation of the current trajectory may lead to significantly different future behaviour. However, it has been shown that the last two properties in the list above actually imply sensitivity to initial conditions[9][10] and if attention is restricted to intervals, the second property implies the other two[11] (an alternative, and in general weaker, definition of chaos uses only the first two properties in the above list).[12] It is interesting that the most practically significant condition, that of sensitivity to initial conditions, is actually redundant in the definition, being implied by two (or for intervals, one) purely topological conditions, which are therefore of greater interest to mathematicians. Continue reading “Dispiciendum chaos: Mulier involvamini in FBI specillum in priores sancti Caroli DA mortuum esse inventum”

Oh Si can you see Part Deux: Errol and the noisemakers.

Well folks I’m not quite sure where to start as Slabbed chips in another 2 cents worth on the remaking of the Times Picayune. By now I hope you guys have “Sometimes Picayune” fatigue but I know that is not the case with some of ya so here goes for those of you that want to get the deep down low on this topic.  I haven’t had more to say on this since late July because Slabbed has been out on assignment doing high quality investigative journalism such as blowing open Aaron Broussard’s use of oversea business ventures as a conduit for graft and bribery and  uncovering a specious real estate transaction involving a small school district. You lifers well know these are far from the only skins hanging on the wall here at the worldwide headquarters of Slabbed New Media as we’ve become a powerful voice in the local media landscape in our own right.

People are naturally resistant to change, to the point where it is to their detriment.  It is a well-studied topic and one in which I am familiar via my interest in behavioral economics. Throw in competing financial interests and it made for an interesting summer as Errol Laborde and the noisemakers made sure their newly disenfranchised voices would be heard loud and clear via sheer mass and repetition. Occasionally something highly insightful would be written, mostly in the new media on websites like American Zombie and Library Chronicles along with certain trade journals.  Since the news broke in May media alliances have been made, broken and remade.  As a long time blogger on stock message boards the business implications of the spectacle were both informative and amusing to me as I often thought of the following while watching the gyrations:

Graph courtesy of The AtlanticNow don’t get me wrong, when the 500 pound gorilla in the room decides it is time to go on a diet the local inhabitants of the forest are going to be impacted especially since local food sources have been on a drastic decline.  My problem is that even when it is shown that the numbers in the new Newhouse business model make sense, old line cognitive biases cause the noisemakers to ignore the “newsonomics” those numbers present. Leaky pay-walls are a joke and are easily defeated.  The concept that the readers will make up for the drastic declines in advertising are a pipe dream along with the notion “the news”, whatever that is, has intrinsic value to the general public. Continue reading “Oh Si can you see Part Deux: Errol and the noisemakers.”

How many convicted felons did Ashton Phelps endorse as publisher of the Times Picayune? A peeksie at why he had to be packaged out.

Here you go folks, the reason former Times Picayune publisher Ashton Phelps had to be canned is ironically contained in the editorial that heaped praise on his tenure there as publisher:

For more than 32 years, Publisher Ashton Phelps Jr. has been listed at the top of The Times-Picayune masthead on the editorial page. Newspaper editorials are written by a team, but Mr. Phelps has been ultimately responsible for our opinions. He has set a high standard, pushing for honesty and integrity in government and demanding the best for the community he loves.

Perhaps the reason Ricky Mathews has kept a low profile was that Ashton Phelps was still around, evidently unseen. I can’t wait to hear the next anti Mathews tirade from Errol and the noisemakers.

File this one under they were ignorant until the very end…. (revised)

First the disclaimer. Attorney Bobby Truitt represents Slabbed in its free speech fight against Aaron Broussard’s former business associates at Trout Point Lodge. Second I contacted Mr. Truitt for comment on the following documents, which my Gabby cousin Slabb O’Leak laid on me yesterday and he declined.

So folks to understand the significance of these documents and my post title above you have to understand Slabbed’s coverage of the political corruption scandal in Jefferson Parish, which began with this post back on January 12, 2010.  By then Aaron Broussard had resigned in disgrace and Steve Theriot was installed via the bums rush by the Parish Council as Broussard’s interim replacement.  I contended then and still contend Theriot was put in office to salvage the River Birch deal due to the fact he is John Alario’s protegé and Alario likely still has a financial interest in seeing River Birch end up with the monopoly on the region’s garbage. Theriot was also installed to prevent the corruption scandal from widening thus Tom Wilkinson was still on the payroll until March 4th, 2010.

The way Theriot went about containing the scandal was to attempt to silence those that were blowing the whistle on the systemic corruption and his battle trying to fire Anne Marie Vandenweghe played out on these pages.  For a blogger like me the material was pure ratings gold and that is where the ignorant came in because the popular meme in certain less informed Jefferson Parish corruption circles is that I was “Anne Marie’s brother”.  Sal Perricone parroted this remark on NOLA.com some time later and Slabbed will be revisiting Perricone, who was fired from his job hastily retired from his job at the US Attorney’s office after strong evidence of unethical conduct as it related to another target of the sprawling federal corruption probe surfaced.  When I say this is a cesspool in Jefferson Parish I’m not joking folks.

So what happened after Tom Wilkinson bit the dust at the upper levels of Parish Government?  By that time Theriot had sent Anne Marie home claiming she was blogging while she was supposed to be working, a public allegation Theriot never sustained as it was pure fantasy.  He was workin’ it though: Continue reading “File this one under they were ignorant until the very end…. (revised)”