Tuesday, April 2nd, 2024


I Am Woman, Hear Me Score

My wife is not into watching sports on television. I know this because I watch it constantly and when I look over to the other end of the couch, no one is there except my beagles and one of my cats who thinks he's a beagle. Last night was different. When I looked over during the LSU/Iowa March Madness game, there was my wife. It was appointment viewing for her and she watched the entire game. She's part of a trend, one that sports fans can feel and that's backed up by the numbers. Women's sports are finally starting to get their due. You can hear it on local sports talk radio shows. You can watch it on lead stories on Sportscenter. And you can see it in an increasing number of television commercials. Monday night's March Madness games felt like they represented yet another surge of interest in women's sports, and they lived up to the hype. The women's NCAA Tournament had center stage. The stars, and the games, delivered in a big way. "There were plenty of people at a movie theater in central Iowa on Monday night, though very few of them were watching an actual movie. They were there to see Caitlin Clark. And they weren't alone. Not even close. Millions of people ... tuned in across America to watch a doubleheader of women's basketball that captivated fans like perhaps never before. Clark and Iowa, in a national-title-game rematch against Angel Reese and LSU in one game; Paige Bueckers and perennial power UConn against freshman sensation JuJu Watkins and Southern California in the other."

+ With the increased visibility comes some of the darker aspects of sports fanaticism. Sports is a microcosm of society, and sometimes that's not good thing. ‘Attacked, death threats, sexualized': Angel Reese speaks out on pressure of fame.


Trump and Dump

The only thing crazier than voting for Trump is investing in his new publicly traded company: DJT. I asked a CEO friend at a (real) publicly traded company to give me an overview of the out of whackness of this company's market value. Total Revenue in 2023 was $4.1M. Twitter had more than $5 billion in Revenue in 2021 - the last full year before Elon Musk acquired the company. So Twitter was roughly 1,200 times bigger than DJT when it was acquired. But at a $44B valuation paid by Musk (which everybody now agrees was too high), Twitter was valued at less than 9X more than DJT right now. On that $4.1M in Revenue, Trump's co had a net loss of $58M. Par for the course when it comes to Trump's grifting, this company is leveraged to the max. The company paid $39.4M in interest on loans in 2023. This means that the company paid more than $9 in interest on the debt for every dollar that it generated. But big MAGA investors have backed the company and MAGA mom and pop investors are scooping up shares. None of this should surprise you. This is how Trump does business: Grifting, donations, and loans upon loans upon loans. NYT (Grift Article): How Trump Moved Money to Pay $100 Million in Legal Bills.

+ So should you short the DJT stock since it's so obviously overvalued? Even that is dangerous because the motivations of the stock's buyers are not necessarily driven by market strategies. And there seems to be an endless number of big spenders willing to add some more leverage to the leverage. Trump Got His $175 Million Bond From a Billionaire Fan's Company.

+ House Republicans push to rename Dulles airport after Trump. Dull is as Dull Does.


Feeding the Narrative

"World Central Kitchen said it had coordinated with the Israeli military over the movement of the cars carrying the workers as they left northern Gaza late Monday. Footage of the aftermath showed a vehicle with the charity's logo printed across its roof to make it identifiable from the air. The projectile punched a large hole through the roof. Two other vehicles in the convoy were incinerated and mangled, indicating multiple hits." Support for Israel has been dropping among allies and in public polls and the latest incident won't help. World Central Kitchen is one of the most known and highly regarded non-profits in the world. With famine looming, aid group halts food delivery in Gaza after Israeli strike kills 7 workers.

+ "The nonprofit said in a statement that the team was hit while leaving a warehouse where they had unloaded more than 100 tons of humanitarian food aid brought to Gaza by sea, a route that World Central Kitchen helped establish just last month." World Central Kitchen, led by a humanitarian chef, has fed crisis zones for years.


Not Strictly For the Birds

"The Texas patient reported only one mild symptom — namely, pink eye — and is recovering, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Yet the news is the latest in a long string of recent headlines that raise concerns about the risk that bird flu poses to public health. Avian influenza has ravaged domestic flocks, causing farmers to cull chickens by the millions. It's also decimated wild birds and many marine mammals including seals and sea lions. And the virus is spreading, reaching penguins in Antarctica and at least one polar bear in the Arctic. These developments are concerning. But how worried should we be?" Bird flu jumped to cows, then to a human. Should we be worried? (Worried about a deadly disease jumping from animals to humans and then spreading wildly? Why would we be worried about something like that?)


Extra, Extra

November Choice: "With the Florida Supreme Court's decision Monday night upholding an existing 15-week ban and allowing a strict new six-week ban to take effect in 30 days, the court has cut off nearly all abortion access across the South, where all other states have either implemented similar bans or outlawed abortion entirely since Roe v. Wade was overturned." WaPo (Gift Article): Florida abortion ruling leaves women with few options. "Anya Cook, who nearly died after she was denied an abortion under Florida's existing 15-week ban in 2022, had a message Monday for women in the Sunshine State who now encounter pregnancy complications after the six-week mark. 'Run, because you have no help here.'" (Run, but come back and vote in November when this issue is on the ballot in Florida.)

+ Do Your Own Research: "The paper has amassed more than 1,000 citations, been mentioned in some 60 policy statements and is widely considered a seminal paper in long COVID research, owing to its in-depth analysis." But this was no ordinary paper. It was led by long Covid patients running out of patience. Nature: Long COVID still has no cure — so these patients are turning to research.

+ A Peak Eclipse Now: "If you're in the center of the moon's shadow, known as the totality, the sky will go dark for a few minutes in the middle of the day. The temperature will drop, stars will appear, and birds will become confused and start chirping their nighttime songs." The total solar eclipse is returning to the United States — better than before. Some people think the surest bet for a good view is from the sky. Time: Why These Passengers Are Flying up to 30 Hours to See Four Minutes of the Eclipse.

+ Eco Warriors: "The group formed a circle as Finger laid out the day's targets. On a G.P.S., he pointed to a yellow circle showing where the isolados had been harassed in the TikTok video, and then red dots, representing the miners, in an irregular cluster around them. Miners had been detected roughly eight miles from the isolados—meaning that they had penetrated dangerously far into a protected ecosystem. 'Wherever they go, the miners destroy everything, entire river systems,' Finger said indignantly. 'And they do it at the expense of these highly vulnerable people.'" Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker: The Brazilian Special-Forces Unit Fighting to Save the Amazon.

+ Econ 101: "Many prospective students this year are facing significant delays and anxiety in finding out how much aid they will be offered by colleges due to major problems with the rollout of a new U.S. Department of Education online form that was supposed to make applying for federal aid easier." Financial aid packages decisions have been delayed in a year when tuition is reaching new heights. College will cost up to $95,000 this fall.

+ It's My Party and I'll Lie if I Want To: RFK Jr. Lays Out Argument That Biden's a Bigger Threat to Democracy Than Trump. Self-interested a--holes are really having a moment.

+ Waxing Lyrical: "More than 200 musical artists — including heavy hitters such as Billie Eilish, Katy Perry and Smokey Robinson — have penned an open letter to AI developers, tech firms and digital platforms to 'cease the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists.'" This isn't a legal action, just a friendly request. So the artists shouldn't be surprised if the response is a form letter composed by ChatGPT.


Bottom of the News

"The backlash - which also saw Karina criticised for being an irresponsible frontwoman of her four-woman group, aespa - prompted her to issue an apology on Instagram, where she vowed "to heal the wounds" she had inflicted. 'I apologise for surprising you greatly,' wrote the singer, whose real name is Yu Ji-min. She pledged to show fans a 'more mature and hardworking side' in future." K-pop star Karina and actor Lee Jae-wook split shortly after going public. The bizarre public backlash to this relationship has been deeply disturbing.