Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017


Measuring Up Chuck

Chuck Barris has died at the age of 87. It's worth pausing to take note of what we now know was his outsized impact on American society. For one thing, he created and hosted The Gong Show, a talent show in which often talentless performers would perform until one of the celebrity judges sounded a gong. (For those too young to have seen it, today's social media is basically The Gong Show without the gong). He also produced The Dating Game and The Newlywed Show. While his shows were accused of lowering the bar, he countered that "Today these shows are accepted. These shows aren't seen as lowering any bars." In his autobiography, he claimed to have been moonlighting as an assassin for the CIA (the agency rejected the claim, though Barris never stated it was a falsehood). Chuck Barris became famous by basically inventing reality TV, and later became infamous by spreading, and standing by, easily refutable lies. In another life, he could have been president.


Paul Cops

Another day brings another damaging story of the growing number of difficult to explain intersections between the Trump campaign and Russia (and the even more difficult to explain public denials of those connections). This time, the exclusive comes courtesy of the AP: Manafort's plan to advance Putin's interests: "President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, secretly worked for a Russian billionaire to advance the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin a decade ago and proposed an ambitious political strategy to undermine anti-Russian opposition across former Soviet republics ... The work appears to contradict assertions by the Trump administration and Manafort himself that he never worked for Russian interests."


Terror on the Thames

"There was a loud bang. Screams. Commotion. Then the sound of gunshots. Armed police everywhere." At least four people have been killed (and many more injured) after a pedestrians were struck by a car on Westminster bridge. The car crash was followed by a knife attack in what authorities are investigating as a terror attack.

+ Here are some photos from the scene, and the latest from BBC.


Rex and Balances

"I didn't want this job. I didn't seek this job.' He paused to let that sink in. A beat or two passed before an aide piped up to ask him why he said yes. 'My wife told me I'm supposed to do this." Rex Tillerson only allowed one member of the press (a White House beat writer from the conservative Independent Journal Review) to join him on a recent diplomatic trip to Asia. This is Erin McPike's report: Trump's Diplomat.

+ "The two most influential role models in Mr. Trump's youth were men who preached the twin philosophies of relentless self-promotion and the waging of total war against anyone perceived as a threat ... Mr. Trump, according to one longtime adviser, is perpetually playing a soundtrack in his head consisting of advice from his father, Fred, a hard-driving real estate developer who laid the weight of the family's success on his son's shoulders. Mr. Trump's other mentor was the caustic and conniving McCarthy-era lawyer Roy Cohn, who counseled Mr. Trump never to give in or concede error." From the NYT's Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush: Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task.

+ "He isn't the best communicator in the world, but he is very good. He doesn't know as much about politics as career politicians do, but apparently he knows enough. He isn't the smartest person who ever ran for office, but he's very smart. He might not be the best business strategist in the world, but he certainly knows his stuff. I could go on for pages about how Trump has good-but-not-world-class skills in a variety of areas. And when you put all of those talents together it makes him the most persuasive human I have ever observed." Dilbert creator Scott Adams has a second career as Trump observer and analyst. And this is what he sees.


Deere John

"John Deere and other manufacturers have made it impossible to perform "unauthorized" repair on farm equipment, which farmers see as an attack on their sovereignty and quite possibly an existential threat to their livelihood if their tractor breaks at an inopportune time." From Motherboard: Why American Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors With Ukrainian Firmware.

+ The Verge: A Lithuanian phisher tricked two big US tech companies into wiring him $100 million. (Even the Nigerian email scammer is giving this guy props for going big...)


Return to Sender

"Filipinas no longer need to sit around and wait to be chosen, and they now have much more access to these men's complex lives before making a choice of their own." Backchannel's Meredith Talusan with an interesting look at how technology has flipped (part of) the dating script for rural Filipinas. How the Internet Gave Mail-Order Brides the Power.


The Board Room

So you and your buds just found some tasty waves. Well, you may have also found the next area of economic growth. (It beats pounding sand.) "A survey of more than 5,000 breaks in 146 countries suggests the discovery of high-quality surf can drive up economic growth by 2.2 percentage points a year in the surrounding area." (The same results can likely be achieved by following taco trucks until they park.)


There’s Immoral to this Story

Uber has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks. And in some cases, the stories have led to mass app uninstalls. These trends have led to some think-pieces imagining a dramatic drop in Uber's valuation, or even a post unicorn life for the company. Not so fast. Uber says it just had its best US week ever.


Game Theory

"Maybe the difference between then and now is just an instinctive awareness that everything is political." The New Yorker's Hua Hsu on the political athlete: then and now.


Bottom of the News

"The company estimates that the average person comes into contact with a scent it's developed about 10 times a day -- yet most of us have never heard of it." When you buy a product, you expect it to smell a certain way. That's where Givaudan comes in.

+ A note from my sponsor: Salesforce has a free webinar for NextDraft readers: Are Spreadsheets and Manual Processes Holding Back Your Growth? (I need one of these for open browser tabs.)

+ No matter how the World Baseball Classic ends, its most classic moment will be when Japanese second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi used The Legend Of Zelda for his walk-up music.

+ There's a decent chance Mike Huckabee is the least funny person on Twitter.