The times they are a-changin’: this week on Fresh Powder

The times they are a-changin’.

 

Let’s talk about sports, the virtual kind. Video game simulations are as close as sports fans and professional athletes can get to the real thing right now, and all indications are that everybody is loving it. I mean, everybody. Football beat writers are picking up the latest version of MLB The Show at Target and realizing that baseball is kinda, sorta, awesome. Anthony Fenech, the Tigers beat writer for the Detroit Free Press, is hosting daily live streams of Tigers games on MLB The Show (CPU vs. CPU, but from their exact 2020 schedule). Fans tuning in ask him questions, comment on the simulation itself, or quietly enjoy the virtual sunny day. (As of Wednesday, the Tigers were 11-18 on the season.) The MLB is doing this, too: Here’s virtual Twins-Cardinals from April 23, a matchup on that date that wouldn’t have matched real life (way to shatter the illusion). MLB Network has even started showing live online games between pros with a play-by-play person calling it. (It follows a trend — ESPN did it with the NBA — but it’s not good. I’ll spare you a link.)

. . . The BBC is airing at least three digital recreations of sporting events: Formula One racing, Premier League soccer, and the fourth and fifth stages of a cycling race across the Schallenberg mountain in which “the cyclists are riding their real bikes on turbo trainers, which mimic the resistance of a hill climb.” The Guardian: “The crossover with real sports is crucial for engaging audiences, says Gallop. With FIFA, for instance, ‘you’re seeing household names, in their own homes. You’re seeing their real competitive instincts – they’re dedicated to winning – and you’re seeing that tribal element of football. I found myself strangely invested in watching Moussa Sissoko’s performance in the ePremier League, because I’m a (Tottenham) Spurs fan. I was absolutely gutted when he was out of the running.’”

. . . Even tennis is in on it. The ATP and WTA setup a virtual Madrid Open for a collection of the best players in the world, “where they will swap their rackets for games consoles.” (Honest question: How many game consoles did they have to ship?) After round robin play, the tournament was into the semifinals Thursday. Here’s where you can watch the live feed, and here’s journalism taking it seriously.

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What to Watch Tonight: ‘Parks And Recreation’ Returns To NBC As Cast Reunites For Benefit Special Amid Pandemic. (Deadline) “The story comes from the events of the day – Pawnee’s most dedicated civil servant, Leslie Knope, is determined to stay connected to her friends in a time of social distancing.”

. . . Price Watch: The May Queen Dress from “Midsommar.” A24 is raising money for charity by auctioning off props, costumes and set pieces from their films. Dani’s dress is up to $30,000 after four bids. (The high bidder might be Ariana Grande.)

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When’s the last time you thought about Marie Kondo? Early 2019? In the last year, Kondo released a new book about tidying your workplace, sold a majority stake in her company and, finally, agreed to do another Netflix show. A profile in Fast Company: “As she goes after the corporate world, Kondo appears to be wrestling with the question of what kind of work makes her happy. For several years, it seemed like she was following the playbook of other celebrity entrepreneurs. But now she has clearly decided to throw that strategy out the window. Apparently, it no longer sparked joy. Perhaps it never did.”

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The L.A.-centric new season of “Top Chef” premiered four days after the city instituted social distancing measures. Watching the show now stirs up a complicated mix of emotions, writes The Ringer’s Alison Herman: “Top Chef has always managed to make the unattainable seem accessible, with editing and performances that make you feel like you have a seat at the judges’ table. But through no fault of its own, it can’t pull off the same magic trick for an entire set of rituals. A supply run to the Santa Monica Farmers Market happened to coincide with the week during which many markets in Los Angeles, including my local one, were closed out of concern for social distancing. … The very knowledge that makes Top Chef such a convincing representation of eating in America also makes it a painful reminder of what’s on hold, and what’s at risk.”

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“On Easter Sunday, while on her afternoon stroll, the Irish novelist Denise Deegan realized she still had not yet called her mother. ‘Hello,’ she said cheerily into her phone. ‘Hello, a man on the street replied. Looking at the man’s face, she realized the voice belonged to the actor Matt Damon.” (Come on, Matt…) The New York Times: Where in the world is Matt Damon?

Hendrix played this guitar: this week on Fresh Powder

Hendrix played this guitar.

 

If you’re going to be watching the NFL Draft tonight, you may recall that, at one time, it was expected to look like something vastly different than it ever had been before, but not in the way it’s turning out. Now, it will be a completely virtual experience. That it’s carrying on in spite of everything, though, is significant. The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis: How the NFL Draft Turned Into the Quarantine Super Bowl. “The defiant normalcy of the draft during a worldwide pandemic is weird. Maybe more than weird. Here’s one way to think about it: After the coronavirus inflicted economic hell on writers from Sports Illustrated and SB Nation, this year’s draft will function as a sports media stimulus package. You don’t need to think the NFL is a cuddly corporate force, or think most draft coverage is terribly important. But if a debate about Tua Tagovailoa’s hip keeps a few people employed, it’s probably worth having.”

. . . Will the format change be the cause of hilarious technical difficulties? This will be the reported setup for Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace tonight.

 

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“Now that her students are stuck at home, they seem hungry for connection. But such moments are scarce in online school. Saying ‘hello’ in the comments on Google Classroom isn’t the same as finding a minute to talk with the quiet kid who shows up early after lunch. Carried on at a distance, the relationships all seem so fragile.” Samantha Elkaim is a high school English teacher in lower Manhattan. She knows she can’t replicate a classroom. She just wants her students to keep talking. (New York Magazine)

 

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“How do you sum up something that’s so huge?” asks Alexei Hay. “One of the only answers is the emptiness, the thing that speaks to whatever everybody’s going through. The absence is more telling than taking a picture of anybody.” New York: Portrait of an empty city. “These are middle-of-the-night photos shot in broad daylight, snow-day pictures without the snow.”

. . . The photographer at my wedding, Jay Grabiec, is a senior airman embedded with the Illinois Air National Guard in Chicago, documenting FEMA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. His recent work: Images from the floor of an Alternate Care Facility in the making.

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Meet Room Rater, a Twitter account launched this month that rates the rooms in the background of Skype, Zoom and other video calls.

Zoom, zoom, zoom: this week on Fresh Powder

Zoom, zoom, zoom.

 

There’s a pandemic, but you know that. The New York Times is offering high school students and teachers unlimited digital access to its news through July 6, so you definitely don’t need us spamming you a bunch of virus links (literally). Instead, we have just one: On Best of SNO, we’re publishing excellent, essential coronavirus coverage that’s being done by student journalists all over the world. By now, we honestly hope you’ve found a few local and national sources that you’re comfortable with providing your daily virus updates. We don’t think it’s necessarily our place, in these times, to pop into your inbox once a week and make suggestions about the hard news you should or should not be reading to stay fully informed. So while we will continue delivering Fresh Powder weekly, we will not be including any direct, informational coronavirus news. Instead, our goal will be to deliver other content — content you may not have the time to find. Some of it may be loosely tied to the pandemic, as so much of what we talk about and write about these days is, but mainly we hope the articles referenced in this email, about journalism, pop culture or something out of left field, will allow you to think about something different for at least as long as it takes you to read one of them. Be well, be safe, be kind, and try to stay busy.

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“Living rooms that were once a sanctuary from people-filled offices, gyms, bars, and coffee shops became all those things at once. Calendars that had been cleared by social distancing suddenly refilled as friends, family, and acquaintances made plans to sip ‘quarantinis’ at Zoom happy hours, hold Netflix viewing parties, or just catch up over Google hangouts.” MIT Technology Review (or, an entry from my diary): Lockdown was supposed to be an introvert’s paradise. It’s not. “People are coping with the coronavirus pandemic by upending their lives and attempting to virtually re-create what they lost. The new version, however, only vaguely resembles what we left behind. Everything is flattened and pressed to fit into the confines of chats and video-conference apps like Zoom, which was never designed to host our work and social lives all at once. The result, for introverts, extroverts, and everyone in between, is the bizarre feeling of being socially overwhelmed despite the fact that we’re staying as far away from each other as we can.”

. . . There are Multitaskers, Screamers and Pet People, the Formally Dressed and Technologically Dependent, the people trying to have side conversations and those obsessed with changing their background. There’s always one Tyrant Tony Reali. These Are the Eight People We Become on Zoom (The Ringer). “Have you ever watched ‘Around the Horn’? Great! Now you’re living it!”

. . . The best satire is rooted in reality. The Onion: “Zoom CEO Reclines Back In Chair In Front Of Massive Wall Of Screens Displaying 10 Million Live Video Feeds”

. . . What to listen to while reading about Zoom: “Supernova Girl” by Proto Zoa. (Come to think of it, Zenon Carr should have prepared us for this.)

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Taking the train halfway across the country wasn’t an outdated luxury to writer Lauren Markham. The train was a place she could find solitude, a retreat where she could sink all of her focus into writing. It was her method, and now it’s out of reach. In an essay for Freeman’s, Markham recounted “The Last Train Trip Before Everything Changed”: “I always like being anonymous and alone within a crowd. When I needed to stretch my legs I’d go to the observation car where I could overhear people chatting about the view outside or their lives at home or what they might have for dinner in the dining car. I heard no mention of the virus decimating Wuhan at that very moment. I didn’t even think of it.”

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Is your aptitude for discovering new music as absent as your willingness to learn how? Pitchfork says it’s science: “Listening to new music is hard. … It feels like lifting a couch.” You might even think it’s breaking your brain. Why Do We Even Listen to New Music? (If there’s one reason to read this article, it’s for the part when an angry mob starts chucking heads of cabbage.)

. . . To that test, the most recent music added to my “Liked Songs” Spotify playlist: “Semi-Charmed Life” by Third Eye Blind. (1997)

. . . While we’re on music, name that movie: “You’ve destroyed music! Thanks to the Queen of Pop, we’ve all lost our music! History repeats itself: Pop has ruined everything!” Wrong. It’s “Trolls World Tour.”

Could you describe the ruckus, sir: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

It feels almost impossible anymore to imagine a world in which we don’t have podcasts to listen to. I’m listening to one right now; that is, both as I write this and later as you read this. But it wasn’t all that long ago when options were limited and Pandora with commercials was your best option for background noise. In the last decade, the podcasting industry has blossomed from a series of booms. For example, the true crime genre was born out of the Serial boom, and the daily news genre (The Daily launched in 2017), like political podcasts, can be tied to the 2016 election. Now the question is what comes next. Vulture: “The 2016 presidential elections kicked into high gear about a year after Serial’s myth-making debut season, and the news moment offered a wide spectrum of media companies an opportunity to try and catch the emergent podcast wave. The producer Jody Avirgan, then with the stats-driven FiveThirtyEight, had described the situation pretty succinctly at the time: ‘There’s this perfect storm of people who think that podcasting is an easy money thing, and there’s big news cycle event coming, and so they just put the two things together. I’m sure if this was Brazil and the World Cup was coming up, you’d see a lot of World Cup podcasts.’ Such were the conditions that led to the flourishing of the election podcast subgenre. But while the 2016 presidential election cycle was consequential to podcasting, the impact going the other way around is less clear. Has podcasting become big enough to shape election politics?”

. . . Crooked Media, a political podcast juggernaut, is planning to expand its empire with shows on sports, race and religion. (The Hollywood Reporter)

. . . Is The New York Times about to buy Serial? (The Wall Street Journal)

Seconded

Ben Smith, the BuzzFeed News editor now writing for NYT: “The Times so dominates the news business that it has absorbed many of the people who once threatened it: The former top editors of Gawker, Recode, and Quartz are all at The Times, as are many of the reporters who first made Politico a must-read in Washington. I spent my whole career competing against The Times, so coming to work here feels a bit like giving in. And I worry that the success of The Times is crowding out the competition.” (Big numbers: NYT has more digital subscribers than The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and 250 local Gannett papers combined and employs 1,700 journalists of a national industry total between 20,000 and 38,000.)

#MillennialProblems

It’s election season. Have you been catfished? “Andrew Walz calls himself a ‘proven business leader’ and a ‘passionate advocate for students.’ Walz, a Republican from Rhode Island, is running for Congress with the tagline, ‘Let’s make change in Washington together,’ or so his Twitter account claimed. But there’s just one problem: Walz does not exist.” A high school student created a fake 2020 candidate. Twitter verified it. (Tough look for Twitter; tougher look for Michael Bloomberg’s spending strategy.)

Sports!

“It is nostalgic to think about it, until you start playing.” BBC: How to win Monopoly in the shortest possible time. (I don’t know, the longer games sound more fun.)

This also happened last week: Jill Biden sent those stage-rushing vegans packing.

I wasn’t a failed DJ. I was pre-successful: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

Donald Trump has tipped the scale with which we grade our politicians in that everything they do gets compared to him. He also makes these assessments himself. By commuting the prison sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, he’s measuring what he’s gotten away with against what Blago did and doesn’t see a problem. Anderson Cooper invited Blagojevich onto his show Friday night but as soon as Rod tried using the appearance to jockey for some political favor, Anderson was ready for it and put him in a prison of his past. “What’s sad is that you hadn’t actually learned that when you mattered, when you actually were the governor. You talk about working for criminal justice reform. There are a lot of people in Chicago, a lot of people in Illinois, who actually like spit up when you say that because when you were actually in power and actually governor, you could’ve helped thousands of people with clemency cases and you blew it off. The governor after you inherited a huge backlog, nearly 3,000 clemency petitions, that you failed to review; in fact, you were sued as governor by Cabrini Green Legal Aid to try to pressure you to actually pay attention to clemency cases instead of extorting people for money and campaign contributions. So it’s a little ironic and frankly a little sad and pathetic and hypocritical you talking about getting a commutation of a sentence, which is within the president’s right, but you ignored a whole hell of a lot of people who were hoping you might give them clemency when you actually mattered. I’d be happy to work with people on criminal justice reform, but I wouldn’t work with you.”

. . . Chicago Tribune: “With Democrats caught up in corruption probe, Illinois GOP appeared to have a ready-made campaign message. Then Trump freed Blagojevich.”

Seconded

“Twenty years is a lot, and there have been hard times in my career as a photojournalist. But there are no words to describe the last two years. You give and you give, and the traumas add up, and eventually, I wondered if I owed this business any more of myself.” Joshua McKerrow: I reported through a mass shooting at my own newspaper. Now I’m taking a buyout.

TGIThursday

Bernie Sanders, to have positioned himself as the leading candidate for the Democratic nominee for president so far, is doing something right, for sure. But not all of his winning tactics are idyllic. For instance, when was the last time you heard of Sanders, one of his campaign aids or one of his supporters attacking the media? Vanity Fair: “Sanders has long contended that the agenda of ‘corporate media’ doesn’t necessarily reflect the people’s needs, and his 2020 campaign has doubled as a rolling media criticism shop. On Twitter, Sanders’s speechwriter David Sirota, a veteran reporter, has become a one-man rapid-response machine; last week, he chided a New York Times reporter for downplaying Sanders’s victory in the New Hampshire primary. Several key campaign figures hail from the media’s left flank: deputy campaign manager Ari Rabin-Havt (Media Matters), national press secretary Briahna Joy Gray (The Intercept), and Shakir (ThinkProgress). Sanders himself has suggested that the Washington Post “doesn’t write particularly good articles about” him because of his efforts to raise the minimum wage at Amazon, the company founded by the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos. He’s also railed against networks taking Big Pharma ads while on the debate stage.”

#MillennialProblems

New Jersey’s largest online news source, NJ.com, is shutting down comments on its site permanently starting today, a shocking move that both eliminates the functionality going forward and removes all comments from existing articles. Kevin Whitmer: “It was never our intent, but we ultimately gave a small number of people a license to say things they would never say in their workplace or at their dinner table without the cloak of anonymity.” (I can only assume it has been very bad for a long time. It’s not a unique problem to NJ.com. Truly shocking.)

. . . On Twitter, replies to NJ.com’s announcement were, surprisingly, mixed.

Sports!

There is no better sporting event than the Olympic Games: my column. For as long as I’ve had those two weeks this summer circled in my calendar, the idea now that they could be canceled is unfathomable. But, according to a senior member of the International Olympic Committee, there’s a real possibility the games in Tokyo could be called off, rather than moved or delayed, if the Coronavirus is not yet considered under control. “There is a three-month window — perhaps a two-month one — to decide the fate of the Tokyo Olympics.” (AP)

This also happened last week: Finally, a personal pronunciation victory to transport me from the “verboh” Vrbo hate train: Jif peanut butter is teaming up with Giphy to make it abundantly clear that Jif is not how you pronounce GIF. (I can’t do this. Be VRBO or be nothing.)

Not the steak: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

“Two kindergartners in Utah told a Latino boy that President Trump would send him back to Mexico, and teenagers in Maine sneered ‘Ban Muslims’ at a classmate wearing a hijab. In Tennessee, a group of middle-schoolers linked arms, imitating the president’s proposed border wall as they refused to let nonwhite students pass. In Ohio, another group of middle-schoolers surrounded a mixed-race sixth-grader and, as she confided to her mother, told the girl: ‘This is Trump country.’ Trump’s words, those chanted by his followers at campaign rallies and even his last name have been wielded by students and school staff members to harass children more than 300 times since the start of 2016, a Washington Post review of 28,000 news stories found. At least three-quarters of the attacks were directed at kids who are Hispanic, black or Muslim, according to the analysis. Students have also been victimized because they support the president — more than 45 times during the same period.”

Seconded

“Listening is hard. We come into conversations with our own agendas and low attention spans, and that can be a dangerous combination.” You’re a Bad Listener: Here’s How to Remember What People Say. (As important in journalism, as in life.)

TGIThursday

“Freshly yet firmly on the other side of fame’s door, de Armas is in the rare position to fling it open, to be frank about what it means to be in the spotlight, to have your life reduced to a stereotype, to be sick of Los Angeles (by the time you read this, she’ll be gone). Just a few years ago she was spending seven hours a day sitting in a classroom, learning to speak English, which she did in four months. Now she’s one of Hollywood’s most efficient multitaskers: She’s about to appear in No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond movie … she stars in the upcoming erotic thriller Deep Water with Ben Affleck … as well as in The Night Clerk … and in Netflix’s political drama Sergio; she will be going back to her roots (she was a towheaded child) to become Marilyn Monroe in Blonde. The fact that her earlier work alongside Ryan Gosling and Keanu Reeves is already so far down her IMDB page is fairly astounding.” Ana de Armas is reinventing the Bond girl. “So how did she get here?” (Vanity Fair)

. . . Listen to Billie Eilish’s new James Bond theme.

#MillennialProblems

In an Olympic year, college athletes have a decision to make: Stay in school and continue competing for your team, or drop everything and dive into around-the-clock training? Star Tribune: “According to the NCAA, the U.S. team for the 2016 Rio Olympics included 50 athletes who were on college rosters at the time of the Games. In some sports, such as diving, it’s typical to put college on hold for a year while training toward the Olympics. In others, including men’s gymnastics and wrestling, college competition is considered an ideal pathway into the Games.”

Sports!

A date baseball circles on the calendar annually had extra drama this year. Pitchers, catchers, and, specifically, Astros reported for Spring Training last Wednesday and Thursday. Out from under the covers of the offseason, you might say the Astros were greeted by a larger than normal media contingent wanting answers. How’d it go? ESPN’s Jeff Passan: “Houston Astros owner Jim Crane’s latest attempt at damage control blew up in spectacular fashion Thursday. In the span of 27 minutes at a news conference, he claimed his team’s routine cheating during its 2017 championship season didn’t impact the game, declared he shouldn’t be held accountable for the organization he runs, used commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the Astros’ malfeasance as a binky and so often repeated talking points that the Apology.exe program he tried to install in his head looked as if it were glitching. The entire charade devolved into a glorious conflagration, Crane’s mouth a veritable fountain of lighter fluid.”

. . . “In an attempt to understand the scope of the cheating and the players involved, I decided to listen to every pitch from the Astros’ 2017 home games and log any banging noise I could detect. These are the results of my efforts. I’ve logged over 8,200 pitches and found banging before over 1,100 of those pitches.” These are the Astros’ Pentagon Papers.

Thinking ahead

McClatchy, the second-largest newspaper publisher in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last Thursday. UPI: “The filing ended McClatchy’s 163-year family ownership and hands over control to creditors, whom the company says support independent journalism.” (Is your local newspaper owned by McClatchy? Check here.)

. . . “The city’s second-oldest high school, built with funds from the New Deal in 1937, is named for C.K. McClatchy, the late editor of The Bee. There’s a McClatchy Park in Oak Park and a McClatchy Library in the old family homestead in Poverty Ridge. Sacramento is the ‘city of trees’ in part because C.K. McClatchy championed tree planting and even had the paper publish front-page ‘obituaries’ on trees that had been killed by vandals or developers.” And now, regrettably, an obituary on itself: The Sacramento Bee, on the permanent impact and legacy of the McClatchy family in its hometown.

This also happened last week: For VarietySharon Choi wrote about her experiences as the interpreter for “Parasite” this awards season.

I have lovely small feet, the best in the family: this week on Fresh Powder

The lede

If you watched the Oscars on Sunday night, you were part of the record-low 23.6 million viewers to witness “Parasite” become the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture. You saw a lot of director Bong Joon-Ho because of it, but heard more from his translator. Meet Sharon Choi, the translator everyone wanted to know after the awards (NYT and CNN). On an aspiring filmmaker taking on a different role during her first awards season, IndieWire: “Choi has been by Bong’s side since the “Parasite” world premiere at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. The “Parasite” Oscar campaign has taken Choi around the world and to countless awards ceremonies, where more often than not she took the stage with Bong to accept awards. From the Oscars to the Critics Choice Awards, BAFTAs, and Golden Globes, Choi was the undisputed MVP of Oscar season.”

Seconded

Why would a 71-year-old retiree save a dying weekly newspaper in a town of 300 people? “‘Simply put,’ he wrote, ‘the horrible thought of this venerable institution folding up and vanishing after 166 years of continuous operation was simply more than I could bear.’ The newspaper, he wrote, was ‘something we need in order to know ourselves.’” The New York Times: Meet Carl Butz, savior of California’s oldest weekly newspaper. (A wonderful read.)

#MillennialProblems

“For the record, the full conspiracy theory goes like this: with Sanders surging in the Iowa polls, the Democratic Party, or cronies thereof, contracted with an unaccountable, nefariously named company to fix the election, either by stealing it outright or by muddying the waters.” Meet Tara McGowan, the millennial CEO behind the app that failed the Iowa Caucus. (The New Yorker)

. . . Wanted: Influencers. Mike Bloomberg would like to pay you to make him seem cool. (This only works if he launches a skin care brand.)

Sports!

“Daniel instantly charmed everyone with his joyful smile, sweet demeanour, and undeniable fluffiness. Carrying his bright blue Sporting ribbon off in his mouth, it seemed impossible to conceive there could be a gooder dog in the competition.” Normally, a dog show isn’t the place to find an angry mob, but add a competitive Golden Retriever to it and… #DanielWasRobbed

Thinking ahead

The anticipated sequel to “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” uploaded to Netflix Wednesday. If the sequel is anywhere as charming and fresh as the first, it’s a must-watch. Entertainment Weekly“To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You” is another sweet escape into teen romance.

This also happened last week: Samsung’s foldable smartphone is here — for close to $1,400 (and it is making me very uncomfortable).

We’re not in Kansas anymore: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

As of Wednesday, the coronavirus had killed 492 people and infected more than 24,500 more worldwide. (The latest: CNN.) In an effort to better treat the growing number of patients, China ordered a hospital to be built in 10 days in the city of Wuhan. It’s finished. The New York Times: “In a ceremony on Sunday, Zhou Xianwang, the mayor of Wuhan, officially handed the new hospital over to the military, which will be in charge of operations. Boxes containing ventilators and medical equipment lay piled on a sidewalk on Monday. Trees sat in large trucks, ready to be unloaded. One volunteer offered free rides around the vast construction site on his flatbed tricycle. On a sign, he had scrawled: ‘Go, Wuhan! Go, Fire God Mountain!’”

. . . Here are 19 photos that show how China built a hospital in 10 days.

Seconded

“Facing fourth-and-1 from the 49ers’ 5-yard line in the first quarter, the Chiefs lifted a play from the 1948 Rose Bowl between Michigan and USC.” The synchronized spin-o-rama. 

#MillennialProblems

It’s been a banner week for system failures. First, the senate impeachment “trial” (what they called it) failed to do the trial part and the impeaching part. Then, the U.S. Senate was subsequently killed off on Wikipedia. (“It died January 31, 2020, when senators from the Republican Party refused to stand up to a corrupt autocrat calling himself the president…”) In between all of that, in the most millennial thing ever, a mobile app went down during the Iowa Caucus, the very moment it was built for: RIP, Iowa Caucuses. Basically, we can all stop pretending any of these systems work anymore. Susan Glasser in The New Yorker: “All fifteen previous impeachment trials in the U.S. Senate, including the two previous Presidential-impeachment trials, included witnesses. But Lamar Alexander has spoken. Donald Trump’s stonewalling will succeed where Nixon’s failed. Perhaps Alexander has done us all a favor: the trial that wasn’t really a trial will be over, and we will no longer have to listen to it. The Senate can stop pretending.

. . . Journalism as a system is still operable, in certain spots, according to ProPublica. “Judging from the conversation in Washington … it’s reasonable to conclude that many there no longer listen to the facts and it’s rare for journalists’ stories to make a difference. That may be true in our nation’s capital, but our experience shows that state leaders across the country are still listening and things can change.” (Good vibes only.)

. . . Iowa politics, though being publicly shamed, has worked for Pat Rynard, founder of Iowa Starting Line, a start-up news site covering politics in Iowa: The New York Times. (No doubt a supremely anticlimactic ending to the very show at the heart of the site’s existence: “Everybody Wins, And Nobody Wins, The Iowa Caucuses.”)

. . . Des Moines RegisterHere’s how Monday night became a “total mess.”

Sports!

Some people watch the Super Bowl for the game. Some watch it for the halftime show, for the food they’ll get to eat, or for the commercials. Sunday’s slate of advertisements, Axios reports, had more to do with brands selling viewers on their core values than their products. (Here’s a list of four commercials I really liked: 4321.)

. . . UproxxThe Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.

Thinking ahead

Wendy’s will start serving breakfast next month. (Start your morning with a Biggie breakfast.)

This also happened last week: Spotify is buying Bill Simmons’ The Ringer, putting the music streaming service into the web publishing business for the first time. “Spotify intends to hire Simmons and all of his approximately 90 employees,” Recode reported, suggesting that the great website will continue with everyday business as usual.

I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

On Sunday, Jimmy Garoppolo and Patrick Mahomes will quarterback their teams in the Super Bowl. Football people might call them “field generals.” On Monday, there’ll be a different big game played: the Iowa Caucus, which you might say is the Super Bowl for field organizers. Their job is not easy. “Convincing Iowans to support a candidate requires a field organizer to forge genuine relationships; the caucus process takes hours and is conducted in full public view, so voters need to believe in a campaign to subject themselves to it.” And that’s not all. Field organizers then have to identify supporters who can be coaches on the field, if you will, when it comes time to take action (and re-action, in the re-vote) Monday. “A field organizer’s next hurdle is turning ordinary supporters into volunteers. This is an important step for not only expanding the campaign’s network, but also because of the role volunteers can play during the caucuses. On a fully staffed campaign like that of Biden, Buttigieg or Warren, each field organizer is responsible for roughly 10-20 of the Iowa caucuses’ 1,678 precincts, but because organizers themselves can’t actually supervise more than one caucus site at a time, they designate certain volunteers to be “precinct captains” — some precincts even get a full “precinct team” — to wrangle supporters and undecideds alike to the ‘right’ corner of the room on caucus night.” FiveThirtyEightInside The Field Offices Of The Iowa Caucuses. Which team will most successfully mimic Barack Obama’s legendary Iowa field operation? It’ll be decided on the field.

. . . Polls can be wrong, as we know, especially for caucuses. But why? Because they don’t account for the very nature of the caucus, that it’s more a marathon game of Red Rover than a couple quick clicks at an ATM. Saying you’ll support a candidate doesn’t mean you’ll go out and play the game. Ed Kilgore: “To put it another way, while we’ve always known there are primary voters (in Iowa and elsewhere) who don’t go to the trouble of caucusing, there are also apparently registered voters — particularly young activist types — who don’t bother to vote in primaries but will show up on a cold night in January to spend hours caucusing for Bernie.”

. . . For journalists, it sounds like deciphering Monday’s Iowa Caucus is going to be impossible. Poynter: “As much as headline writers and TV analysts want to declare winners and losers, Iowa adopted new rules to an already complicated system that defy crisp declarations. … This year, in an effort to be “transparent,” Iowa will report not one, but three results.”

Seconded

“We have spectacular candidates, and we still have decision-making that’s irrational. I don’t want to pick on anybody, I really don’t, but it’s hard to justify Freddie Kitchens being hired and overlooking Eric Bieniemy.” Black NFL executives and coaches sound off at town hall: ‘We just want a fair shot’ (The Undefeated)

TGIThursday

Rolling Stone’s recap of the best and worst moments from the Grammys on Sunday is exactly why you intentionally “miss” the Grammys: Who are 90 percent of these people?

#MillennialProblems

“We didn’t think anything of it, and then it blew up.” Isn’t that always the way? The Story Behind Oregon Softball’s Viral Videos: “It wasn’t even our intention to even try to get the attention that we did get from it. It was more just us having fun and bringing light to our sport.” (Beyond sport, Haley Cruse is capable of bringing light to your life. Follow her.)

Sports!

To a cardboard hoop in your bedroom, in your neighbor’s driveway or at the school gym, his is the name you exclaim — “Kobe!” — when you’re calling your shot, planting your foot for a stepback jumper from long range. You didn’t have to be a fan of his, or even of the NBA, to use him as a verb. You could be in awe of him without rooting for him. You can be rocked by his death without having known him. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning in Calabasas, California, along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. In Los Angeles, the city is suddenly in mourning. Los Angeles Times: “At an East Hollywood Metro station, a man wearing earphones watched a YouTube video on his phone — ‘Kobe Bryant’s TOP 40 Plays of His NBA Career!’ Two other men walked up behind him to see. He nodded and unplugged his earphones so everyone could hear the audio.” He was 41.

. . . Bill Plaschke: “Kobe was your childhood hero. He was your adult icon. For 20 years he was on posters in your bedroom, on the television in your living room, in the lunch talk in your school cafeteria, in the smack talk at your office water cooler, and ultimately riding on a truck down Figueroa Street while you cheered and bragged and bathed in his greatness.”

. . . “There’s a whole basketball generation out there that patterned their game upon Bryant’s—if you think NBA fandom just segued artfully from Michael Jordan to LeBron James, you’re missing a big, essential group of people for whom Kobe was The One.” The Wall Street Journal“What Kobe Bryant Meant”

. . . Jackie MacMullen: “Horrific news travels at Mach speed, even when you have no cell service.”

. . . “She said it might be true. Then her next question was, ‘Have you heard from your brother?’ and I was confused.” Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife and daughter were among the other victims of the crash. Altobelli, 56, was about to begin his 28th season with the school Tuesday. He was a national coach of the year and five-time college state champion, earning more than 700 wins in his career. (Orange County Register)

. . . Wondering how the media handled it? “The news seemed to put anyone who’d ever heard of him into a state of shock. As has been the case for much of the past decade, people took to social media, many skeptical that this was just another internet hoax. As it became clear it was not, people began their search for answers. Those answers, at least for the next hour, would not be easy to find. A collection of false reports, poor wording, and a collective news media playing catch-up only added to confusion, frustration, and an ultimate distrust in what was being reported.” Here’s a timeline of bad information in the first wave of the Kobe Bryant story.

Thinking ahead

To the 2020 election… The Daily BeastDems Are Buying ‘Tens of Millions’ of Cellphone Numbers in Huge Voter Contact Push. “The committee also plans to continuously update its list of cell phones throughout the cycle, and expects the total number of voters available for contact to grow before election day.  They’re also constructing a proprietary data science model dubbed ‘Sonar’ to help campaigns prioritize who to call or text.” (Sonar, you had a good run.)

This also happened last week: Following Elle Duncan’s tribute to Kobe Bryant, the hashtag #girldad took off on Twitter. Some of the best tributes came from the people who were given the stage to make them. Here’s just one you’ve got to read.

You got your shot, now give me mine: this week on Fresh Powder

A summary of journalism news and pop culture brought to you by  SNO

The lede

“It was like Armageddon, basically.” Australians exited the weekend further reeling from their summer of disastrous weather after a dust storm preceded a massive hail storm, with hurricane-force winds, in the southeastern part of the country. “The storm was intense and fast-moving. The territory’s Emergency Services Agency reported receiving a record 1,900 calls for help — more than three times the average for a storm.” (NPR)

. . . “Dozens of communities across Australia’s southeast are still reeling from fires which have been described as the most destructive on record. Since September, blazes have killed at least 30 people, destroyed over 2,000 homes and burnt through 10 million hectares of land – an area almost the size of England.” The latest from BBC: Australia’s brushfires are far from over.

. . . Despite the brushfires, the Australian Open tennis tournament got started without delay Sunday, though not without disputes over the safety of the air quality ahead of time. AP: One player complained, “people in Melbourne were advised to keep their pets indoors on the day he played, ‘and yet we were expected to go outside for high intensity physical competition?’”

Seconded

“The editorial board is an institutional voice, but it is not the voice of the institution as a whole. That’s a crucial distinction that often gets lost. The board doesn’t speak for the newsroom. How could it?” The New York TimesWhat is an Editorial Board?

. . . Now that that’s out of the way: The NYT editorial board likes Amy… and Elizabeth. (Top that, Des Moines Register.)

TGIThursday

Where are you shopping this weekend? “In my early 20s, I bought a 300-count box of dryer sheets at Costco. The first problem with the box was that it caused me to contemplate my mortality: The box was going to last me six years, which meant I’d probably only ever need to buy nine more such boxes, and then I would be dead. The box was far from used up when I moved from Washington to New York, and I paid movers to move it along with my other possessions. Shortly thereafter, I threw away the box, which still must have contained more than 150 sheets, because, like a typical millennial, I gave up using fabric softener. (It’s bad for your workout clothes!)” Josh Barro: When Buying in Bulk Is a Mistake

#MillennialProblems

“While she is proud of being ‘born and raised a Jersey girl,’ it was only in Jordan that she began to take pride in her roots. She learned Arabic and appreciated Middle Eastern food and hospitality. When she returned to the U.S., she began to wear a headscarf as an act of defiance against a rising anti-Muslim tide. ‘I lost a lot of friends, people started treating me differently,’ she said. But she also became an ambassador for her faith. Students, even teachers, stopped her in school and asked about the Quran and Islam. ‘I had to learn as much as I possibly could about my own religion, the ins and outs of it, what Islamophobes were saying about it, so that I could understand how to respond.’” Mistreatment in the years after 9/11 forced Amani Al-Khatahtbeh’s family to flee the US, and later inspired her to build MuslimGirl.com, where she’s dispelling stereotypes for two million readers. (AP)

Sports!

The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution to urge Major League Baseball to strip away the 2017 and 2018 World Series titles from the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox and reward them to the Los Angeles Dodgers. (A hilariously bad waste of time.)

Thinking ahead

No kidding: The Onion is entering the daily news podcast business. It premieres Jan. 29. (Is this bad? This is bad, isn’t it?)

This also happened last week: While Las Vegas has been locked in as host of the 2020 NFL Draft, it was announced that the stage will be on the water at the Fountains of Bellagio. “The players will be transported to the stage by boat.”