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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

Is This Spaghetti Ready Yet?

The blogosphere can play a role in the Maryland sniper case. How? There are a number of different creative processes for generating solution to problems. One such technique is "Throw the spaghetti at the wall, and see what sticks". Let's break that down:

Throw the spaghetti at the wall: Generate ideas, the more the better. One idea will spark another. Some ideas will suggest lines of inquiry. This part of the process can be very difficult, since no one wants to "look stupid", and everyone want to suggest "the right idea". At this point in the process, there are no right ideas! The only bad idea is the idea you keep to yourself. Brainstorming requires an active imagination and a high threshold for later rejection.

See what sticks: Now, so many ideas - which ones make sense? Get facts, do some research, follow some thoughts to see where they lead. Some interesting ideas will fizzle out, maybe some new ones will pop up - that's good!

Action: We don't do idle chit-chat here. By God, people leave here knowing what to do next! Look, five minutes work and you can get the e-mails for many of the reporters at the NY Times. I suspect that to be true for the local papers covering the Maryland sniper situation. So, you have focussed on one or two interesting ideas, you have some research to back it up, and you have some interesting follow-up questions. An intrepid reporter might be able to turn this into a story - make yourself a new best friend! Find some reporter who is desperate to open a new angle, turn them loose with your questions, the story starts shaking and breaking, et voila! Pulitzer Prize for your new buddy, a morning with Katie Couric for you. Try to remember your friends back in the blogosphere.

A longshot? Bit of a lottery ticket, yes. But you can't win if you don't play.

So, lets get started. Diane E from Gotham has a great idea. Why is it great? Because it is a fascinating, "out-there" connection that suggests some ideas. I can think of little things wrong with it, but I can think of one big thing right with it - it gets the ball rolling.

SO, other ideas:

Happy anniversary: The first anniversary of the war in Afghanistan was last Sunday (worth checking). Revenge of al-Qaeda? Obvious questions: Does al-Qaeda have a history of celebrating anniversaries this way? Do reports from Afghanistan suggest that al-Qaeda troops operate as snipers?

Happy St. Patrick's Day: The IRA links with some other terror group, as per the divine Ms. E. Why? Unhappy with the US imposed accord in Ireland? You tell me.

Homegrown: Everybody's first choice. More?

Tamil Tigers: I have NO IDEA if this makes sense. Still, they conducted a campaign of terror for years, and it shouldn't be hard to rule them out.

The War on Drugs comes home: Columbian paramilitary units tied to the drug cartels decide to operate in the Washington area. Hey, the story Diane E. linked to mentions a South American-IRA connection. So, what is the history of terror in Columbia - do they use snipers, target civilians, what? Shouldn't be hard to check.

Dirty Harry: haven't we seen this movie? And now we have the Tarot cards. But I will say this - if I were an operator, I would laugh out loud as I left clues like that.

So, there is a start. More ideas, some research - go, Blogosphere! Someone with a cool comments section and an interest in this case would be an obvious rally point. My nominee is Susanna Cornett, but it might be worth asking her first. Hmm.

UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan joins in.

UPDATE 2: Lots of coverage of this from local Jum Henley.

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