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The Dominance of ESPN

Fascinating article from The Verge into the media juggernaut that is ESPN — and how it’s making moves to keep pace with the latest technological and social media trends.

A salient point here is that in an era in which the model of traditional television shows are being threatened, ESPN’s strategy of seizing coverage of live sports is proving smarter by the month. The speed of the internet has made the venerable broadcast news shows antiquated, the pundit-driven 24-hour news cycle being chased by the cable news network has turned their product into garbage, DVRs and mobile devices are upending traditional ways of judging success, and new actors like Netflix and Amazon are entering (and now winning) in developing popular TV shows.

But you can’t easily disrupt the live nature of live sports.


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Jeremy the Koala

A koala found injured in a bushfire last months has made a full recovery and is being released back into the wild. Poor Koala had his paws singed by the fire!


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The Story of a House

Congrats to Brock for having BOOM California publish his richly textured, detailed exploration into the story of the house and land he owns in Oakland.

In it, Brock finds that the contemporary narrative of the anti-gentrification movement has in fact been an on-going cycle since the first settling of the land by tribes of the Ohlone Indians thousands of years ago. He goes back and researches the various people who laid claim to the land his house sits on, and the story of how his house and neighborhood changed in the past two hundred years.

I found in that history the pattern that I expected. One group pushes out another group, often aided by forces much larger than themselves: a royal army, a Gold Rush, an earthquake, racism, the law, or the gears of capitalism turning. Those gears grind some people to dust. Others manage to harness their power to make fortunes large and small. Whether a person ends up as the machine’s operator or its input is often not determined by anything resembling merit or even by individual decisions, however much we might like to pretend otherwise.

Go read it. (Great historical maps too!)


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Beavers to the rescue

Great little story here from Scientific American about an unusual plan to re-locate a native population of beavers that involved parachuting them into a hard to reach valley.

Credit: The Idaho Fish and Game Department


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New Podcast: Invisibilia

Hat tip to Mary for suggesting Invisibilia , a new podcast about the ‘invisible things that influence human behavior’. Their first episode is on fear, and it’s terrific.

The Radiolab inspiration is self evident within a minute, with its inquisitive style and — most notably — its high quality layered sound production.

Definitely give it a listen.


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Broods: Evergreen

I previously highlighted a song by New Zealand duo Broods, and only now did I realize that their full length album was release back in October: Evergreen.

Solid effort from a new band, especially with songs like “Mother & Father” and “Sober” beyond their breakout single “Bridges”.

I had to describe the vibe here, it would like Phantogram crossed with The xx.

(also, I didn’t think I’d have two posts with ‘Evergreen’ in the title in a short span)


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The launch of Fitz and the Tantrums

Great article at NPR about the little magical breaks the band Fitz and the Tantrums got in their early days which helped propelled them to success.

They did a few shows and ended up performing on NPR member station KCRW’s show Morning Becomes Eclectic. A tattoo artist, visiting from New York, heard them on the radio and bought the EP.

Back in New York, Adam Levine from Maroon 5 came in to see the tattoo artist, who recommended Fitz and the Tantrum’s music. “Adam proceeds to listen, starts tweeting about our music….

A week later, Levine was sitting in the front row at a tiny club show the band was doing. A week after that, the band got an offer to open for Maroon 5 on their big East Coast college tour.

If you haven’t already, check out their album ‘More than Just a Dream’. It’s an awesome, upbeat, indie pop take on Motown soul. And they put on a helluva live show — don’t ever miss them.


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Made me think – the challenge of poverty

Hat tip to old Stanford classmate Ricky Yean who shared this Slate article ‘Why Poor People are Poor’.

When you have essentially zero financial cushion, the little annoyances in life can end up having massive, life altering consequences. If your car breaks down and you can’t afford a $300 repair, then you could end up losing your job because you miss too many days of work, or get fired because you are late due to sub-optimal public transit. Salient quote:

Because our lives seem so unstable, poor people are often seen as being basically incompetent at managing their lives. That is, it’s assumed that we’re not unstable because we’re poor, we’re poor because we’re unstable.

This got me thinking…is there any sort of ‘real-time’ intervention model possible to provide an emergency financial cushion for people in need?


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Justifying the ‘Evergreen’

Read this editorial by Vox stating their take on ‘evergreen’ articles — stories that aren’t time sensitive but are intended to provide general context and background on a topic. And then read it again.

It seems that the publishing platform Vox started to basically re-publish already published articles with either no or slight ‘touch-ups’ to their content and — despite changing the tagline to ‘Updated‘ – found that visitors (and subsequent page traffic) didn’t really notice. So it’s going to start happening more.

Not sure how I feel about this — on one hand it seems to be the less labor-intensive (lazy?) path to maintaining traffic numbers, but then again there really are great informative articles that can get ‘buried’ under the deluge of the 1400/24/7/365 constant news feed.


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Charlie Hallowell on The Eastern Shore

Do yourself a favor and listen to this gem of an interview that Brock Winstead did with restauranteur Charlie Hallowell on The Eastern Shore.

Hallowell now has three successful restaurants in Oakland and spent years at Chez Panisse learning and absorbing the craft of preparing and serving food. He has a wildly curious mind, an engaging and open heart, and an incredible sense of awareness of his place in the world and what is craft means.

I can’t wait to go experience his restaurants in person!


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