Wandering Eye: Fundamental questions about crime reporting, DOJ slaps FIFA, and more

Here's a blog post by Nick Szabo about game theory. You should read it because it is clear thinking that will make your head hurt. Game theory is important because computer engineers and economists are both overusing it right now as they try to explain us and design new ways for us to live and work. Szabo points out that they are bringing tiddlywinks to a chess tournament: "Even if the players can somehow be convinced that they will remain complete strangers to each other indefinitely into the future, our moral instincts generally evolved to play larger 'games of life,' not one-off games, nor anonymous games, nor games with pseudonyms of strictly limited duration, with the result that behaving according to theory must be learned: our default behavior is very different." If you think for a moment about the design of large systems in which incentives drive human behavior—a bank's trading bureaucracy, say, or a city police department—you can immediately see the wisdom in Szabo's theory and its relevance. It is not for nothing that some believe that Szabo, a cryptologist, is secretly the father of Bitcoin. He denies it. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


Baltimore continues to have a horrifyingly violent month, and there's been plenty of reporting on the murders and the surrounding consequences. Up in Chicago, the South Side Weekly has a timely essay asking "some fundamental questions" about crime reporting: "Why should we tell isolated stories about violent crime? Do reports of shootings serve impoverished neighborhoods or illuminate institutional violence? What, to put it simply, is crime reporting for?"

"The narrative seduction of violence is no secret; 'if it bleeds it leads' is as much an editorial truism as 'sex sells,'" author Bea Malsky writes. "Crime reporting can pathologize black and brown communities in Chicago's poorer, disenfranchised areas, the same areas that have seen a retraction of resources in the past decades—with closed public housing facilities, mental health clinics, and public schools among the most visible. Impoverished neighborhoods receive impoverished coverage, cultivating an awareness not of suffering but of danger. To cover only a neighborhood's crime is to say, subtly but repeatedly, that bad things happen to bad people." This is not to say that all of the critiques laid out in the article apply to Baltimore media, but it's a great read that should make reporters interrogate deeply why they cover the things that they cover. (Anna Walsh)


Corruption in FIFA, the world governing body of what we Americans call soccer, is basically assumed at this point, but here comes Loretta Lynch and the Department of Justice with bribery charges anyway. There are 47 charges in all against 14 soccer officials. According to a write-up in the Washington Post, the DOJ alleges there "were kickbacks to FIFA officials by executives and companies involved in soccer marketing and 'bribes and kickbacks in connection' with 'the selection of the host country for the 2010 World Cup and the 2011 FIFA presidential election.'" The Post notes that, though FIFA is based in Switzerland, "U.S. charges stem from alleged corruption linked the federation’s regional groups in the West Hemisphere and involve other U.S. interests such as banks." But really, what would you expect from an organization that gives its biggest tournament to a country that imports poor laborers and is on pace to kill 4,000 of them? (Brandon Weigel)

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