Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New York Times: Law Blocks ATF's Use of Big Data.

"Legal Curbs Said to Hamper A.T.F."
Goode, Stolberg et al., New York Times, Dec. 26, 2012
available at
The New York Times, like other news sources, is picking up on the fact that the Obama administration is preparing to overhaul how the Federal government learns about the potential for gun violence.

The description of the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF)'s ability to track gun purchases is positively ridiculous, when one thinks about how easy these things are for department stores like Target.  If they're really still using printouts and paper, that's a travesty.

The worst part, of course, is that the law is written so that the government agency is less effective.  After Newtown, the administration is (presumably) getting ready to propose extensively changing the law, which makes sense.

While I can imagine that there are a series of careful provisions that may be put in place, I think the government should make clear that not just ATF, but also state-level social service organizations, should always be given access, at the very least, to the same kind of information that is already possessed by the likes of Wal-Mart and Amazon.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Unintended Consequences of Makerbot.

Slashdot drew my attention to this Forbes story today, which made me shake my head in sadness.  Makerbot has always seemed to have the promise to transform the world -- as  Chris Anderson of Wired has described it, "[w]hat desktop fabrication represents is a laboratory for the future, not just of manufacturing but of stuff itself."

"3D-Printing Firm Makerbot Cracks Down ..."
Andy Greenberg,, December 21, 2012

However, I think the Maker movement has now found its equivalent of the Internet's Rule 34. In short, if you give people a way to make things, someone will use it to create a gun, and using Makerbot to create automatic weapons is just about the worst idea possible.

I respect the effort to prevent electronic distribution of the designs, but that's not going to cut it, because darknets can move those around.  DRM on a Makerbot, which might prevent these designs from being used in the first place, is something that very bright people have been thinking about for a while. But the somewhat dismal history of DRM suggests DRM can, at best, mitigate, rather than prevent such problems.

Ultimately, we need to know more about the people prone to doing these things. If someone's trying to  print parts to create an automatic weapon, stopping them is important.  But so is letting the right person know they're trying to do it in the first place. 

DRM helps -- but the solution is probably going to involve Big Data ...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lifehacker and Text to Speech.

Having to write every day means you end up becoming quite aware of your reuse of phrases, and the errors you make regularly.  Lawyers are certainly not immune to the phenomenon. So editing is a skill I have to hone, all the time.

Lifehacker had some nice tips on improving your writing earlier this week.  One is "read your text out loud." This makes some sense -- I agree with Lifehacker's argument that:
"The best writing sounds smooth—almost like you're speaking, without getting colloquial. So actually listening to your written syntax is one of the best ways you can catch areas with jangling phrasing."
Of course, under time pressure with a deadline, it's hard to do that. However, one tip I picked up from my brother, is to use a text-to-speech program to make your computer read the text out loud.  

My Mac has, built in, the ability to do that.  It's called Text to Speech, and it has a remarkable set of features (including a range of accents you can choose for the voice that reads your text). 

It may not make your writing perfect, but at least you'll have a fighting chance of detecting auto-replace substituting form for from ... 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dear Instagram -- Don't Mess With Kurt Opsahl.

It's always nice to hear from readers -- and it's even better when they suggest good topics ...

One thoughtful friend pointed out a news story about Instagram today. I'd noticed headlines on the subject earlier, but had kind of figured they were all spin by corporate executives. I somewhat subconsciously usually do what Felix Salmon described earlier this week, in that I start with the dual questions: “who is the main source for this story” and “what is that person trying to achieve.”  I figured the first answer would be "a Facebook competitor," and the second would be "slam their stock."

I was wrong.

Kurt Opsahl.
The main resource for this story was Kurt Opsahl. Kurt's a lawyer at EFF, and he's been around for a while -- to put his career in context, he was involved in litigating the Arriba Soft case, which I actually wrote about when I was in law school.  When Kurt writes about something, it's safe to say he's generally not engaged in a pump-and-dump stock manipulation scheme.

One interesting thing about the Arriba Soft case is that you couldn't have worked on it and not realize that a social network will need to obtain nonexclusive licenses to the photographs its users upload, in order to display those photos and redistribute them -- in the early days of the web, people relied on "implied licenses" to do that, and of course, like all such things in law that are "implied," what the courts really meant was "we've just always done things that way."

But social networks, well, they can't exactly rely on tradition, and so they have to have explicit licenses.  And their attorneys draft the language as broadly as possible, because frankly, they have no idea what rights they're really going to need even 18 months down the road, and they're careful people trying to play football on a field with moving goalposts. So you get very broad grants of rights in these "clickwrap" types of agreements.

"Instagram's New Terms of Service to Sell Your Photos"
Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Freedom Foundation

Of course, the real thing the lawyers have to guard against is that their contractual language doesn't let them do something that their competitor can do -- that Google will be able to roll out a killer service because their TOS (Terms of Service) is more expansive than Instagram's, and playing catchup legally will take six months when advantages in the Valley are measured in weeks.  What needs to happen, then, is for a neutral party to say "hey, you're going to scare off all the users if you write ridiculous TOS like that, here's what a reasonable such service should look like."

Enter Kurt.

Kurt has pointed out that there are three key things that every user of a social network deserves -- the kind of things that a social network must have if it is not to alienate its users in the long run.  They aren't that complicated:

  • The Right to Informed Decision-Making
  • The Right to Control
  • The Right to Leave.
Instagram's TOS didn't have any of these -- they aren't even close, and Kurt pointed that out, too.  Instagram responded, but hasn't changed anything yet. 

The one thing I'd observe is that, perhaps surprisingly for professionals in the copyright field, is the degree to which the executives at Instagram probably weren't originally all that aware of their terms of service in the first place.  In the old days, it's startling to realize how frequently the TOS was an afterthought at a startup.  I suspect that Instagram's initial terms deviated significantly from those that a reasonable and prudent attorney familiar with the field would have recommended -- chances are that the drafting "team" was an intern cutting-and-pasting a competitor's TOS into Instagram's HTML.

Enter Facebook, and their (very professional) outside counsel.  Those lawyers like following rules, and they know that the Instagram terms just didn't cut it.  Their clients, locked in a running battle with deep pocketed corporate titans (Apple, Google), want them to push the envelope as far as is reasonably possible, but no further. As those attorneys found out today, that's a tough task when the parameters of the envelope are unknown, and perhaps unknowable. 

People like Kurt drawing attention to issues like this one is a very big part of how we figure out what will be reasonable going forward.  Certainly, it is clear that we should give kudos to EFF -- this is the second day in a row their work is showing up here.  I can't imagine this is the end of the road for the Instagram TOS issue -- this one will crop up again and again -- but I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for Kurt's take, if I want to know what the practical consequences are going to be. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Obama: It's Time To Use Big Data To Protect Our Children.

President Obama interrupted the awesome 49ers-Patriots game last night for a speech.  I didn't have time to go over it until this morning, when I started putting the pieces together to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  Plus, I needed to read it, rather than hear it, to process the substance.  

The criticism I heard this morning was that the word "gun" was never mentioned in the speech.  How can the President be talking about protecting children and not mention gun control?  After thinking about it, I don't think it was an accident.  While control of guns may be his goal, I think he's planning on getting there through something on an entirely different level from mere background checks. 


"Government seeks to shut down NSA wiretapping lawsuit"
Joe Mullin, Ars Technica, Dec. 14, 2012
available at
President Obama has amazing tools at his disposal to protect America from threats around the world.  He gets daily reports on what terrorists around the world are up to, with fairly accurate predictions concerning what they'll do next.  He can do so because of the power of the NSA's computers, and because of the careful use of statistics.

Anyone who wants to get really specific on the cutting edge of the technology can read about the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) litigation over Room 641A at AT&T's building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco. While the lawsuit talks about a lot of computer hardware, like the Narus STA 6400, what the program is really about is the NSA collecting essentially everyone's electronic communications, and analyzing them probabilistically, to anticipate and prevent attacks. 

I strongly suspect those tools are not used by domestic law enforcement, and as near as I can be certain about anything, I believe those tools are never made available to mental health professionals and social workers. 

However, these kinds of tools are no longer just available to the Federal Government. The last ten years have seen these tools proliferate throughout American industry and academia. Charles Duhigg of the New York Times wrote a superb article on the subject this past February, detailing specifically how Target, for example, uses such information -- entirely legally -- to market to pregnant mothers in their first trimester:
"About a year after Pole created his pregnancy-prediction model, a man walked into a Target outside Minneapolis and demanded to see the manager. He was clutching coupons that had been sent to his daughter, and he was angry, according to an employee who participated in the conversation."

“'My daughter got this in the mail!' he said. 'She’s still in high school, and you’re sending her coupons for baby clothes and cribs? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant?'”
"The manager didn’t have any idea what the man was talking about. He looked at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained advertisements for maternity clothing, nursery furniture and pictures of smiling infants. The manager apologized and then called a few days later to apologize again."
"On the phone, though, the father was somewhat abashed. 'I had a talk with my daughter,' he said. 'It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I haven’t been completely aware of. She’s due in August. I owe you an apology.'"
Corporate America knows some of our deepest secrets, without us explicitly telling anyone. The importance of that can easily be overlooked -- the computer system at your local Target has access to incredibly personal information about you that we would never have dreamed of providing to your average social worker or school psychologist.


To understand the President's speech, though, I think you have to understand how difficult it was to explain the situation in Newtown, Conn. to my daughter.

When she asked me why the flags were at half-staff on Saturday, I started by explaining to her that, just like her stomach might feel bad, or her leg hurt, sometimes our heads get sick, too.

She wanted to know why the person wouldn't just go to the doctor if that happened.

I told her that sometimes part of the sickness is that the person thinks they can't ask for help. And that we all depend on one another to ask each other for help when we can't handle something, to keep us all safe.

I then told her that we are all sad because someone got sick like that on Friday.  And that the person decided that the only way they could get better was by hurting themselves, and a whole lot of other people, people who are just like her Mom, her Dad, and her, in a small town just like ours. And that we lowered the flags because we are all so sad.

It was still on my mind that evening, when I sat down with a good friend who's in education.  We were talking about when we can take action based on information we receive -- I explained the oath lawyers take in California, and he talked to me about what it means to be a mandated reporter.  We both reflected on how our options are limited if someone won't ask for (let alone accept) help.

But of course, with modern technology, we don't have to sit around waiting for someone to ask for help.  Your local Target has all the information needed to predict when you're pregnant, and the same types of databases probably light off like a Christmas tree when someone's thinking about taking the kind of action Adam Lanza took.  I suspect it's routinely possible to use the same computer systems to alert local school and social workers when something like Newtown's about to happen -- perhaps far earlier than any of us suspect.


If you think of government using such databases in as ominous terms as Room 641A is described in the EFF litigation, the whole situation probably freaks you out. It's not hard to see why.

Think for a moment -- if the government can just go buy the same information about you as your local Target can -- about who's pregnant -- imagine the use of such information in, oh, say, the abortion context.  Now, there's no invasion of a woman's right to private communications with her doctor -- the government can know a woman's thinking about getting an abortion long before the event occurs, without invading that relationship at all.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are aware of how politically explosive that technology's use by government could prove. The consequences of tearing down the anonymity veil are, at the very least, unpredictable.  No-one has wanted to walk down that road.

Until now.
"[E]very parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm."

"This is our first task -- caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged."
"And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children -- all of them -- safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?"

"I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change."

"Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America -- victims whose -- much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time."
"We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law -- no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society."

"But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that -- then surely we have an obligation to try."
"In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens -- from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators -- in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
The President knows we are not powerless -- we are anything but.  He knows the computer system at the Target located at 7 Stony Hill Road, Bethel, Connecticut, 8.5 miles from Sandy Hook Elementary, had a better idea of what was about to happen than any social worker or educator in the State of Connecticut. And he's had enough of tying the government's hands. 


This could make anyone afraid -- how will such information be used?  Is this Orwell's 1984? The concern must be about how such information will be used, and our fear is that it will be misused.  

I submit to you, though, that we as Americans can create a solution to this problem -- for managing such incredibly difficult problems is what we do.  

I was struck this morning, after watching Disney's Prep & Landing over the weekend (if you haven't seen it, you should, it's hilarious) about how our artists reimagine Santa Claus in the 21st Century.  

Rather than magic, Santa's operation is run by a charming, elven-staffed combination of NASA, the CIA, FedEx, and SOCOM, all rolled into one. And why?  For the kids, of course. These elves coming down the chimney with night vision goggles and sparkle ornaments are hardly fear inducing -- after all, we lay out cookies and milk for them, and carrots for the reindeer. 

So that brings this back to the subject matter of this post. What's behind the door to Room 641A? It's the real world's version of the technology and organization from Prep & Landing. The power of that technology may be misused.  But we as Americans specialize in organizing ourselves to wield that kind of power.  When we think of the power of Santa, our artists imagine the bureaucracy it would take to get something like that done the right way -- because that's what we as Americans happen to be pretty good at. If there isn't a set of agencies, experts, lawyers and officials designed to oversee the application of this technology, of this information, and the use of the probabilities it calculates, there soon will be.  And it will probably work pretty darn well.

It's not that Adam Lanza couldn't get help from anyone. It is that we as a nation refused to examine the data. America will, no doubt, be a much different place when your town advertises, via postcard, about free counseling clinics, and the postcard is sent to only one home. Our President's point, however, is that our freedom does not depend on our government ignoring the very information driving the core of American business.  Innocent lives depend upon us paying attention, and protecting the vulnerable must be our starting point, no matter how serious the consequences will be politically. 

The President, not being specific?  Hardly.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Paul Krugman: "Brad, Don't Get Too Excited."

Paul Krugman, "Lost Decade Watch"
The New York Times, December 13, 2012
available at
Mr. Krugman is considerably less excited than Brad DeLong about the changed position of the Federal Reserve concerning explicit inflation targeting linked to unemployment.

"Awesome failure of policy" is rarely something I want to hear from a Nobel Prize Winner in Economics.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


From The Economist, on today's Federal Reserve actions (QE4?):
"While we wait to observe the impact of the policy, we can nonetheless appreciate the pragmatism and intellectual flexibility of the FOMC. Though behind the curve for much of the recovery, it has evolved relatively quickly over the past year in response to changing data and a changing academic debate. Perhaps it will evolve a bit more if conditions demand it."
... and from Brad DeLong, making the matter slightly clearer:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Regarding Word Shortcuts on the Mac ...

I'm a fairly heavy user of Office for Mac, and "Outline View" in particular.  For structuring a Table of Contents, it's essential.  One nice tool is the ability to promote or demote particular levels of the outline without taking your hands off the keyboard.  Because I can never remember the shortcuts to do so myself, I'm putting them here for my (and everyone else's) benefit.

Demote:     Tab.
Promote:    Shift+Tab.
Body Text:  Shift+Cmd+N.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Standing, Blogging, and Prop 8.

From time to time I post on other people's blogs.  I used to believe blog comments were a one-way conversation with the blogger.  That's not really why I do so any more -- the reason now is that, while there's something interesting on the blogger's site, I generally want to read what their other readers think of a particular point -- the comment threads can become Condorcet juries.  Some blogs are especially useful for that purpose.  One is the Volokh Conspiracy.

From "Supreme Court Grants Prop 8, DOMA Cases"
Orin Kerr, The Volokh Conspiracy
available at
posted a message over there on Friday to Orin Kerr, who is an expert on 4th Amendment case law regarding the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.  The specific post concerns standing to defend California's Proposition 8.  The nice part was that twenty-two other comments on the message helped me take my own thinking on the subject a couple of more steps down the road, so to speak.

The issue being discussed, standing in the context of the Prop. 8 case, is a big deal for lawyers, but its importance to the public at large is questionable.  For instance,  Margaret Warner of the PBS Newshour referred to it as the "so-called" standing question on Friday's broadcast.  I tend to think the standing question is important, but that the issue will probably prove to be merely interesting rather than determinative.

Inscription on the wall of the Supreme Court Building
from Marbury v. Madison.
I think we as Americans believe courts have the inherent power to hear constitutional challenges of this type, which I think is the pillar of truth at the core of Marbury v. Madison (1803), 5 U.S. 137.  That inherent power cannot be fairly exercised without advocates for either side in the courtroom.  Indeed, if the Prop. 8 advocates are barred from the room, the constitutional question would, ultimately, be a de facto decision by the executive branch, not the judiciary.

We as Americans have more or less accepted that the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions will be the courts.  Executive and legislative interference with the court's ability to do so tends to be considered game-playing by the courts, and the Supreme Court appoints counsel to make such "orphan" arguments about once per term. The Prop. 8 case may thus become something of a natural experiment concerning the inherent power of the courts to hear disputes despite efforts by the executive and legislative branches to deprive them of the ability to do so, which should prove interesting to civil procedure scholars, if not ultimately proving important in deciding the case.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Where Newspapers Are Headed ...

The Economist took at look at the newspaper industry this week.  They touched on their article from 2006, which noted the dire future of the industry (a prediction that has come true). However, their evaluation is that the future looks less grim six years on, mostly due to the advent of paywalls.

"News Adventures"
The Economist, December 8, 2012
available at
The unusual feature of newspapers, like most media, is that they have been counter-majoritarian in the past. An editor would undertake a campaign that was unpopular, and change the minds of his readers -- often if not always to the betterment of the community.  Businesspeople took note -- a successful but unpopular corporation could use the same vehicle to burnish its reputation through a media campaign -- or, better yet, avoid that problem entirely through careful advertising over time.  This created an economic link between local business and the paper, which had significant consequences.

The close connection between local businesses and a newspaper built on advertising meant many small towns had an essentially conservative institution that nonetheless valued ideas and the importance of the 1st Amendment.  The small town newspaper could therefore be an important bulwark against insularity and parochialism across the United States.

The new economic model, though, is different; it is based on subscriptions, not advertising.  The newspaper must now cater to its readers to a greater degree, and potentially their prejudices.  The Economist points to the future of newspapers as being similar to the future of radio, in a somewhat unconcerned fashion.

It is understating the matter to suggest that there are merely "critics" of the changes to radio.

Of course the counter-majoritarian feature of media in general has not gone away; the reasons businesses need to reach customers have not changed, merely the vehicle has (Google or Facebook, instead of the New York Times). However, there is a greatly diminished local element to such technologies -- one of the cast of characters in a small town, the  newspaper editor, has no analogue for a web site.

This has happened in other industries -- the local banker has been replaced with a Director of Business Development dispatched from the city, and a nurse-practicioner working at a distant HMO's facility substitutes for the local GP. The services (banking, health care, advertising) are perhaps provided more economically, but the open question is whether the community is diminished when its most powerful, insightful, and respected members, the banker, the editor and the doctor, are subjected to new economic pressures from unexpected directions. The radio model, thus, should be cause for concern for newspapers -- it may be more a poisoned chalice rather than a magical elixir.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sonoma County vs. Odessa, Texas.

I was thinking this morning about a Press Democrat article from February of this year, which discussed high school athletes who received scholarships from Sonoma County.  The striking element of the story was the number of female student-athletes receiving scholarships to play college soccer.  Fifteen (15) seniors signed letters of intent to play women's soccer at the college level.  By way of contrast, there was only one Division I football scholarship offered, and that was to attend an FCS school, UC Davis.

"High School Girls Soccer Reigns on National Signing Day"
 Howard Senzell, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, February 1, 2012
Available at 
In Sonoma County, the importance of women's soccer is almost a given for the County's 488,116 residents, so this outcome isn't considered too unusual.  However, if football and soccer scholarships were evenly distributed across the country, you'd expect Sonoma County to generate seven (7) D1 football scholarship players every year, but only 3-4 women's soccer scholarship players.

Sonoma County's lack of D1 football players isn't necessarily that surprising -- the county is relatively remote, and Northern California's football culture is more concentrated in Sacramento and the East Bay.  While there are good athletes here, this isn't a place like San Diego, with great athletes across the board.  Scouts thus come to the area infrequently, so a D1 player on the bubble is less likely to be noticed here, even when that caliber of athlete exists.

The reason the football data is interesting, though, is because it disproves the "San Diego" model.  Sonoma County isn't like Contra Costa County, where the success of Danville and San Ramon in soccer is complemented by the football prowess of De La Salle. If that rule were true, you'd expect almost no women's soccer scholarship athletes to come out of Sonoma County.

Expected County Population1 D1 Football Scholarship.
Instead, of course, the truth is the opposite.  There is something quite unusual about Sonoma County and women's soccer, statistically speaking.  I suspect this is the most uneven distribution in this direction between the two sports in the United States.  To put the distribution in perspective: 
  • A normal county that produces only a single D1 football player is about 117,124 people, or somewhere between the size of Humboldt County (134,623) and Mendocino County (87,553), the 35th and 38th largest counties in California.
  • However, a normal city that produces 15 women's soccer scholarships is about 2,017,830 people, or somewhere between the size of Houston (2,145,146) and Philadelphia (1,536,471), the fourth and fifth largest cities in the U.S.
Of course, you'd kind of expect there to be a women's soccer magnet somewhere.  You know, the equivalent of, say, Monongahela, Pennsylvania. Or, perhaps, Odessa, Texas.

If there is, it looks like it might very well be Sonoma County, California.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Romeo Crennel is Good at His Job.

Romeo Crennel is good at his job.  This statement flies in the face of conventional wisdom -- Crennel is considered something of a failure by that standard.  He's only had one winning season in ~5 seasons as a head coach, and his team this year is just 2-10.

I say this after watching Merril Hoge on ESPN comment on the Chiefs win this past weekend, and the murder-suicide that took place the day before. Merril argued that
  • There is no skill set that prepares an individual to deal with that kind of a situation;
  • That the Chiefs were inspiring in their performance; and 
  • That Romeo Crennel displayed amazing leadership qualities.  
I like Merril, and I am impressed with Romeo Crennel's handling of the situation, but I don't think the analysis is right.

First, I can think of ten different skill sets that are all designed to deal with the horrible situation that occurred at the Chiefs' facility -- cop, firefighter, EMT, doc, shrink, nurse, lawyer, judge, priest, and rabbi, just to start. These kinds of things are routine for those jobs. Each one of those individuals has a skill set designed to deal with a specific part of that situation. So Merril's wrong on that one.

The second is whether the win is inspiring.  NFL players are professional athletes, but they are really professional entertainers, like stage actors.  The byword of those fields has always been "the show must go on."  They did their jobs as entertainers -- commendable, but something more than that?

Finally, on whether this is a display of leadership by Crennel -- Crennel did his job, and did it well. It is common to overlook that a coach like Crennel is the operational manager of an organization worth approximately a billion dollars.  That organization's value is based on holding eight events (games) at their stadium each year.  Romeo made sure the game took place, and he deserves a lot of credit for that.

Part of being a coach is being a leader, but Hoge heralding Crennel as a great leader misses the schwerpunkt.  The important question, the tough point, is why was Crennel able to lead? Why is Romeo Crennel good at his job?

I can't tell much, from thousands of miles away, about Romeo Crennel's personality, or the way he interacts with people.  But I'm probably right about the following point -- Romeo Crennel has the capacity to form intimate relationships -- that he is able and capable of being affectionate towards people. Such a capacity is the single best predictor of success in every aspect of life. I think it's the reason Jovan Belcher sought him out, the reason his players gravitated to him in a crisis, and the reason the Chiefs were able to go to work on Sunday.  Romeo Crennel has a "skill set," for lack of a better word, to deal with such situations -- and that skill set, not winning, is the sine qua non of coaching.