Thursday, March 30th, 2017


Highlight Reeling

My ten year-old son rarely watches live sports or Sportscenter. And yet he seems to know everything about all the players and all the teams. And he sees most of the major highlights. To me, it's a curious situation. For ESPN, it's a scary one. In an era of cord cutters and YouTube highlights, ESPN is holding onto to its very lucrative spot as the most valuable player in the cable bundle. But times are changing. And so are revenue numbers. From BloombergBusinessweek: ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They're Not Really Into It: "The show's formula, in which well-fed men in suits present highlights from the day's games with Middle-American charm, is less of a draw now that the same highlights are readily available on social media. Viewership for the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter, a bellwether for the franchise, fell almost 12 percent from 2015 to last year, according to Nielsen. Keith Olbermann, the SportsCenter-host-turned-political-commentator, put it bluntly on a podcast last year: 'There's just no future in it.'"


Bill of Wrongs

"That system, with its lines of alphanumeric codes and arcane medical abbreviations, has given birth to a gigantic new industry of consultants, armies of back-room experts whom medical providers and insurance companies deploy against each other in an endless war over which medical procedures were undertaken and how much to pay for them. Caught in the crossfire are Americans like Wanda Wickizer, left with huge bills and indecipherable explanations in languages they cannot possibly understand." Want to understand why health care is so remarkably expensive in America? Let's start at the beginning. Not the beginning of the illness or treatment. The beginning of the bill. After your doctor tells you what you have, you better get a second opinion, from a math PhD. From the NYT: Those Indecipherable Medical Bills? They're One Reason Health Care Costs So Much.


Devin Sent

"The revelation that White House officials assisted in the disclosure of the intelligence reports -- which Mr. Nunes then discussed with President Trump -- is likely to fuel criticism that the intelligence chairman has been too eager to do the bidding of the Trump administration while his committee is supposed to be conducting an independent investigation of Russia's meddling in the last presidential election." The wildly inappropriate moves by House Intelligence Committee Devin Nunes were actually more inappropriate than we thought. From the NYT: 2 White House Officials Helped Give Nunes Intelligence Reports. If only Peter Sellers were still alive so he could play Nunes in the movie version of this story.

+ Here's a blow by blow review of the Nunes/White House story. It's shocking this guy still has his gig. (And it's hard to be shocked in today's DC.)


Ms Direction

"Code tested and trained using Ms. Pac-Man could, she suggested, be integrated into unmanned vehicles, helping them conduct search and surveillance missions under conditions that would be too hazardous for humans -- in war zones, disaster areas, or the deep ocean." From The New Yorker: Could Ms. Pac-Man Train The Next Generation Of Military Drones?


Dropping a Deuce

"The bill might be considered something of a Humpty Dumpty bill: The goal is try to put things back the way they were and pretend the whole fight never happened." Faced with nonstop economic bleeding since the bathroom bill was passed, North Carolina lawmakers have agreed to a deal to repeal the law known as HB2. But critics are already complaining that the repeal doesn't go nearly far enough (while other critics are complaining that there was a repeal effort at all). From The Atlantic: North Carolina Is Finally Repealing Its Bathroom Bill.


Hitting the Pipes

"Many consumers, especially households with limited incomes, appreciate receiving relevant advertising that is keyed to their interests and provides them with discounts on the products and services they use." Why would groups urge Congressional efforts to roll back consumer privacy protections in the name of adding more dollars to your broadband provider's bottom line. You know why. But sometimes it's even worse than you think. From The Intercept: Comcast-Funded Civil Rights Groups Claim Low-Income People Prefer Ads Over Privacy.

+ I get why broadband providers wanted to be able to collect and sell your personal info. And thanks to the article above, we know why groups on the broadband payroll would step in line. But I don't get why voters aren't up in arms. If you don't own shares in any broadband companies, how can you support elected officials who make it easier for Internet providers to sell your personal data without your permission? From Me: Seriously, How Can You Be For This?


The Puck Stops Here

"To be able to train and skate the way we need to without it being a financial burden moving forward, I think is going to be very, very beneficial for our team. It's also going to change the landscape for the next generation coming up." The US Women's National Hockey Team went after equal pay and fair treatment -- and won. (The team even threatened to boycott the world championships.)


Font of Inspiration

"It's the font everyone loves to hate -- there's even a movement to ban it. But my dyslexic sister helped me see how valuable those much-maligned letters can be." From Narratively: Read This Before You Ever Make Fun of Comic Sans Again. (Given the news so far, Comic Sans should be the official font of 2017. Unless WingDings is still available.)


Oh, You’ll Be Woke

"Good news, Americans who love starting the day with hand tremors: Black Insomnia Coffee, a bag of caffeine that debuted in South Africa last year under the guise of being coffee, arrives Stateside today." From GrubStreet: This Bonkers New Coffee Has 300 Percent More Caffeine Than Your Morning Starbucks. (Now I'll only have to drink one quart of coffee to produce NextDraft.)


Bottom of the News

"Last night, at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance leadership dinner, Comey let slip that he has both a secret Twitter and an Instagram account in the course of relating a quick anecdote about one of his daughters." And with that as a starting point, Ashley Feinberg went looking... From Gizmodo: This Is Almost Certainly James Comey's Twitter Account. (Maybe this is an indicator that Comey has too many speaking engagements?)

+ How do you increase sales of your ice cream brand? Make the packaging more Instagrammable.

+ Hey, the Energy Department climate office just banned the use of phrase climate change.