Friday, August 26th, 2022


The Pass Menagerie

I'm desperate enough for sports content that I even watch preseason football, a competition so meaningless that everyone from coaches to commentators regularly reminds you of its insignificance. Last night the game I watched did make some news, mostly because it's part of a trend. The 49ers/Texans game was broadcast on Amazon Prime. Live sports was once seen as the last hope for struggling cable operators. Now live sports content, like so much other material, is being spread across a menagerie of apps. You don't just need multiple apps to keep up with multiple sports, you often need several apps just to keep up with your favorite team. You've long needed a PhD in TV to figure out what's on and where to watch it, but there's something more worrisome about the paywalling and dividing of the sports audience since its one of the few cultural areas that still cuts across our other increasingly stark divides. The Atlantic: Sports Streaming Makes Losers of Us All. "Starting this fall, the league will put Thursday Night Football exclusively on Amazon Prime Video, the first time the NFL has pulled a game off TV to put it somewhere else. The Big Ten, the richest conference in college athletics, will soon air eight football games and dozens of men's and women's basketball games on Peacock exclusively each year. Other sports leagues are already there. This year, MLB started showing a Friday game on Apple TV (for free, with a login required), and another Sunday-morning game is paywalled on Peacock."

+ Axios: Big tech crashes big sports.


The Gas is Half Empty

"An oil producer's oil embargo and the Iranian revolution in 1979 caused blackouts and long queues in petrol stations in the West. At the peak of that crisis in 1982, people in the UK paid 9.3% of their income on energy." That was bad. The current energy crisis in Europe is worse. Forget showering, it's eat or heat for shocked Europeans hit by energy crisis. "To blame for the increase is the soaring price of wholesale natural gas triggered by Russia's war in Ukraine, which is driving up consumer prices and roiling economies across Europe that rely on the fuel for heating homes and generating electricity." Britain to see 80% spike in energy bills as crisis deepens.

+ Meanwhile, a Russian plant is burning off about $10 million worth of natural gas a day.


The Mother Load

The initial demand for the Justice Department's heavily redacted affidavit explaining the justification for an FBI search of Mar-a-Lago was so heavy that the US Court's server known as Pacer crashed. TLDR: Trump stole classified documents. For months and months, he refused to give them back, so the FBI got them because they belong to the American people and the Justice Department assumed the worst because Trump is the worst. But by all means, read the redacted affidavit. Just remember that Trump stole our documents after leading a violent attempt to overthrow our election. There were no redactions in that much bigger crime. We all saw it with our own eyes. Speaking of what we already know, the Feds wanted the redactions in part because "if witnesses' identities are exposed, they could be subjected to harms including retaliation, intimidation, or harassment, and even threats to their physical safety." We've seen this happen already, too. Here's the latest from those reading it for you.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: Bad Sisters on Apple TV is an Irish show about a group of siblings who may have felt motivated to off one of their spouses. It has a solid ensemble cast and it's really good so far.

+ What to Pickle: I'm a slight pickle addict. Kruegermann is about as good a widely available jarred pickle you can find on a grocery store shelf. Their vinegar-based picks are where the LA-based family operation really shines. Start with the Frisch-Gurken, but don't miss the spicy garlics.

+ What to Book: It's been a while since I reminded you to pick up a copy of my book Please Scream Inside Your Heart. In part, it's a father son story about an American year that wouldn't end. But it's also a roadmap that explains exactly how we got to where we are right now. Don't take my word for it. It's getting great reader reviews. And a reminder that the audiobook version features the greatest voice in narration, Peter Coyote.


Extra, Extra

Eyes on the Pfiz: "The lawsuit shouldn't have a major effect on vaccine availability — Moderna said that it's not looking to remove the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, known commercially as Comirnaty, from the market. It's looking for payment." Moderna is suing Pfizer over its coronavirus vaccine.

+ Jerome With a View: "Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell warned that the central bank's mission to tame inflation will result in 'some pain' for US households." Today, that pain is being felt in the Jackson hole in your stock portfolio.

+ Making Laws for One: "The seventh-grader continued showing up to practices, but she couldn't bring herself to attend the game in which she'd be benched. Her absence seemed to galvanize her teammates, who could not believe she had been ousted for being herself. For every goal they scored, they shouted, 'For Fischer!'" WaPo: Kentucky's lone transgender athlete can't play on the team she helped start.

+ Binders, Keepers "Few objects evoke Gen X or millennial childhood as powerfully as the Trapper Keeper, essentially a large binder for your folders. Mead, Mr. Crutchfield's employer, introduced it nationally in 1981, and by the end of the decade the company estimated that half of all middle and high school students in the United States had one." NYT E. Bryant Crutchfield, 85, Dies; Gave the World the Trapper Keeper.


Feel Good Friday

One of the feel goodest stories of the back to school season is the kick-off of the Busload of Books tour. Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr, husband/wife, author/illustrator creators of middle grade and picture books, will spend the 2022-2023 school year traveling the country in a school bus/tiny home—visiting Title I schools in all 50 states (plus DC), doing presentations on creativity and collaboration, and giving away 25,000 hardcover books to students and teachers from underserved communities. It is such a great program and I am a proud supporter. I would have paid just to see what would happen when two parents tried to live on a school bus with their kids for a full school year. NextDraft will be following along all year. You can learn more here. Trust me, this is the most lovable family on the planet. Even Jasper! And yes, there's still time to donate.

+ "My uncle is a dentist. He tells me that's much better for a boy than to play baseball for money. So I told him O.K. But most of all I want to play baseball. If I am any good and if dentistry interferes with baseball, I'll give up dentistry..." Most Little League World Series Players Dream of the Big Leagues. He Dreamed of Dentistry. And he succeeded! That calls for a song.

+ The large blue butterfly has enjoyed its best summer for 150 years in Britain thanks to targeted restoration work.

+ The New Yorker: The Obsessive Pleasures of Mechanical-Keyboard Tinkerers.

+ 'Drone Boy' becomes hero in Ukraine after taking out a line of Russian tanks.

+ Teenager becomes youngest person to fly solo around world. (This morning, one of my teenagers woke up and got ready for school by himself.)

+ NYT: The Seeds Strike Back. Chia seeds were hot has hell a few years ago and the craze is back. And guess what? It's not just hype. (If Metamucil is a firecracker, Chia seeds are a nuclear bomb.)

+ Loyola Chicago basketball's Sister Jean turns 103; Chicago train stop named for Catholic nun.