Pete's Prep: Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018

Could the federal ban on gambling be overturned?

If it is, the NBA has a plan. ESPN reports: Link

In what could end up being a seminal moment for sports gambling in America, the NBA on Wednesday formally requested a set of laws that could be the basis for professional sports leagues pushing for national legalized wagering on games.

Dan Spillane, an attorney for the NBA, testified in front of a New York State Senate committee and for the first time made it clear what the league's price would be to become a partner in legalizing the multibillion-dollar industry.

The NBA wants 1 percent of every bet made on its games in addition to other regulations, a request that could create massive revenue for the NBA and other sports leagues in the future.

This is a Bidenesque Big Deal and it comes just as the US Supreme Court is considering a New Jersey case that could clear the way for states not named Nevada to permit gambling.

And bear wrestlers shall lead us

Three years ago, Alabama ended forfeiture for bear wrestling. Now the state may scrap its civil forfeiture laws entirely. Link

It wasn't just text messages from Strzok and Page

FOX News reports: Link

Thousands of FBI cellphones were affected by the technical glitch that the DOJ says prevented five months’ worth of text messages between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page from being stored or uploaded into the bureau’s archive system, federal law enforcement officials tell Fox News.

Congressman voted against Obamacare repeal in effort to woo his aide

Well, maybe it's better that we don't think of it as a vote against repeal, but rather a vote to help Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA) get lucky with a younger woman. From the New York Times: Link

Mr. Meehan denied crossing the line into impropriety, but said in an interview that when the woman told him last year that she had started a relationship with someone outside the office, he “didn’t respond to it as well as I would like to have.”

He said he believed his attempt to make amends — a handwritten letter in which he called her “a complete partner to me” — was meant to be a sign of respect.

“That I would find later that that was not something that she was comfortable with, really hurts me,” Mr. Meehan said. “This was a person who specifically invited communication with me so that she would be able to have the ability to be there for me.”

The New York Times reported that Mr. Meehan, 62, a married father of three, had entered into a confidential agreement to settle the complaint brought by the aide, who is decades his junior. She left the office after filing a complaint alleging that Mr. Meehan became hostile after she rebuffed his romantic overtures, sources familiar with the situation told The Times.

And the best way to win her back was to vote against repeal of Obamacare, apparently....


Facebook is in trouble

At least according to this report in Vanity Fair: Link

Stories about Facebook’s ruthlessness are legend in Silicon Valley, New York, and Hollywood. The company has behaved as bullies often do when they are vying for global dominance—slurping the lifeblood out of its competitors (as it did most recently with Snap, after C.E.O. Evan Spiegel also rebuffed Zuckerberg’s acquisition attempt), blatantly copying key features (as it did with Snapchat’s Stories), taking ideas (remember those Winklevoss twins?), and poaching senior executives (Facebook is crawling with former Twitter, Google, and Apple personnel).


Meanwhile, Zuckerberg moved quickly to circumnavigate regulations before governments realized the problems that Facebook created—and certainly before they understood exactly how dangerous a social network can be to their citizens’ privacy, and to a democracy as a whole.

A few weeks ago, Zukerberg announced they were going to change the algorithms Facebook uses to regulate what stories and posts you see - and where they appear in your "Newsfeed." It was billed as a desire to encourage "more meaningful interactions."

But maybe it's something else.

Maybe Zukerberg realizes the damage his product has done to society.

Or maybe it's... less altruistic.

Is Facebook eliminating news from its site because it realizes that spotting “fake news” is too difficult to solve—even for Facebook? Or, as some people have posited to me, is Facebook rethinking the divide it has created in order to keep growing? After all, much of Zuckerberg’s remaining growth opportunity centers upon China, and the People’s Republic won’t let any product (digital or otherwise) enter its borders if there’s a chance it could disrupt the government’s control. 

Or... maybe Facebook algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. And those computer models show we're leaving the platform.

It knows how to send us the exact right number of pop-ups to get our endorphins going, or not show us how many Likes we really have to set off our insecurities. As a society, we feel like we’re at war with a computer algorithm, and the only winning move is not to play.

This Vanity Fair piece is worth a read.

Hating gerrymandering is easy. Fixing it is hard.

So says David Wasserman at Link

It’s easy for opponents of gerrymandering — the drawing of political boundaries for the benefit of one party or group over another — to argue what districts shouldn’t look like. All they have to do is ridicule the absurdity of the most bizarre patchworks ever woven to elect members of Congress. For example, “The Rabbit on a Skateboard,” “The Upside-Down Chinese Dragon” or the “Mask of Zorro.”

But it’s much more difficult to say what districts should look like, because reformers can disagree on what priorities should govern our political cartography. Should districts be drawn to be more compact? More conducive to competitive elections? More inclusive of underrepresented racial groups? Should they yield a mix of Democratic and Republican representatives that better matches the political makeup of a state? Could they even be drawn at random? These concepts can be difficult to define and often stand in tension with one another.

North Carolina gets a mention in this piece, with this description:

In practice, many states’ Republicans did seek maximum advantage in 2011 — often trampling districts’ compactness in the process. In North Carolina, for example, where Republicans drew 10 overwhelmingly Republican districts and three serpentine Democratic districts, not a single district had a Cook Partisan Voter Index score1 that was remotely competitive.2

But Republicans didn’t always seek to build impenetrable fortresses. In many places, their goal was to spread their advantage more thinly over a large number of districts. The risk? Over time, such maps can unravel or backfire — particularly if the party has a bad year.

That Asheville crossfit gym is going out of business

In this op-ed published in the Citizen-Times, we learn that Tom Tomlo will be closing Blue Ridge CrossFit after the outrage and backlash over a video he made - showing his female clients bent over while working out and commentary like, "Dayummm!"

But the social justice victory seems unfulfilling to the op-ed writer.

Is this the feminist movement? Because I feel ashamed. Mob mentality and social justice leaves no peaceful feeling in my soul, in my heart. We did not make our community better, we did not ensure this behavior would never happen again. We did not change a mind or an action. We stomped the issue out of existence in an eager, angry mob and wait patiently for it to grow again with our pitchforks and typing skills, because when it rears its ugly head, we will beat it back into the ground.

To answer her question... 

Yes, that is the state of the current "movement." It's a constant search for targets and reason upon which to spur outrage and offense. It's not designed to "fix" or "improve" the community. It's designed to purge it.

The writer continues:

In my heart, I wish we had a chance to change his polices. In my heart, I wish the Me Too movement would have joined me at that meeting, and worked with him and other gyms across Asheville to create safer, more accountable environments. I wish he could have been the poster child for how to make gender-positive change, not be simply the face of mob destruction.

This is a very good idea to contemplate.

Imagine if this incident had prompted an effort to create social media policies for gym owners and clients to replicate? I applaud the writer's attempt to imagine how this story might have had a positive outcome - rather than only victimization, revenge, and destruction.

Pete Kaliner

Pete Kaliner

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