The now-resolved lockout between America's National Football League and its referees is just the most recent outbreak of labor strife in the US — but it got, by far, the most attention. And unlike other strikes and stoppages, it received broad condemnation, with even union-busters like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and VP candidate Paul Ryan calling for the speedy return of the "real refs." Why the bipartisan brouhaha? Paul Weber of the Associated Press has a theory: when 100 million people can turn on their TVs and watch every mistake made by the scabs — the so-called "replacement refs" — the expertise lost in the lockout is obvious. "Often overlooked when things work as they should," the value of expertise is back in the spotlight, argues Weber. When teachers or factory workers go on strike, they're hoping to remind management of the value of their expertise. Unfortunately for them, their skill is demonstrated behind closed classroom or factory doors, not on prime time television.
Bonus: For more on the US's recent labor pains, see Karl Taro Greenfield in Businessweek, who reminds us that the NFL lockout, like the Chicago teachers' strike, wasn't just about pay, but the ability to let go of underperformers.
Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, argues in this provocative essay that the rioting throughout the Muslim world over a video produced in America should be evidence that the First Amendment goes too far. Most of his discussion of the history of America's free speech laws is shallow and/or spurious, in my opinion, but his final paragraph makes a point business folk will find interesting: with the left hesitant to interfere in free speech, and with the right hesitant to interfere in free markets, in the end the only entity that could control access to the video was private, profit-seeking enterprise Google. Hmm.
As a frequent traveler, you'd think my credit cards would be accustomed to booking planes, trains, and hotel rooms. But no: the purchasing of a plane ticket to London triggers a call from the bank, as does, two months later, the act of buying a Heathrow Express fare with the same card. This is frustrating, but as Cory Doctorow points out, it's also dangerous: such calls do little to actually keep money safe, and are easily mimicked by phishing scammers, who imitate concerned bank representatives while stealing your financial information in the guise of asking you to "confirm" it. Cory offers a technological fix for this problem, but here's a simpler one: when your bank calls you, hang up and call them back, using the number on the back of your card.
Why Big Companies Can't Innovate (HBR.org)
Public Sector Pensions: "Their Accounting Makes Enron Look Good" ([email protected])
Are You Breaking the Law? The European Data Protection Act (Forrester Blogs)