All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, so let’s dive into another edition of the mailbag.

Before we go any further, here is my detailed breakdown of the Mueller Report.

Here we go:

Kin writes:

“I’ve noticed you have been tweeting recently about the NBA playoff ratings being abysmal, to what extent is the low ratings determined by the fact that there is the largest super team ever formed in league history in the NBA out west? It’s fun to watch the Warriors, however everyone likely knows that they are going to win the championship again. Are there any rules and regulations that Adam Silver could enact to prevent the formations of these super teams to create a better league wide product?”

I think much of the NBA’s social media popularity is a sham, honestly. Combine that with the fact that the NBA overlaps with woke Twitter and I think social media skews heavily towards NBA interest when the nation as a whole does not.

I base that on the data I’ll discuss below, but also because the NBA as a league, uniquely, is defined by a star player.

There’s pretty much always one person who dominates the league. During my youth, that was Michael Jordan. Everything in the NBA revolved around Jordan.

Now that player is LeBron. (For a short while there was a Kobe era, but it never really took root nationally like Jordan or LeBron have).

And this year LeBron not being in the playoffs is giving the NBA a scary look at its future. The NBA has a player, not a league, which is why NBA playoff ratings have dropped by 26% so far this year as compared to last year.

There’s precedent for this in the NBA: after Michael Jordan left the NBA, ratings plummeted.

How bad was it?

Atrocious.

In 1998 Jordan’s Bulls played the Utah Jazz and an average of 29 million people watched that six game series. That’s still the most watched NBA Finals ever. And it featured the most watched game ever — nearly 36 million people watched Game 6 of that series.

Just five years later, after Jordan left the Bulls, the NBA only had 8 million people watching Game 2 of the NBA Finals, which was the least watched ever.

Think about that for a minute, the NBA went from nearly 36 million people watching a finals game to eight million in the space of five years.

Why?

Because Jordan left.

Even nearly a decade after the 1998 all time record, the 2007 NBA Finals between the Spurs and the Cavs averaged just 9.3 million viewers. So twenty million less viewers cared to watch the NBA’s best two teams than cared to watch when Jordan was at his peak.

Why?

Because Jordan brought huge viewership by himself, not the NBA. These viewers were Michael Jordan fans, not NBA fans.

Eventually LeBron built up to being a decent draw, but he was much less of a draw than the NBA in the late 1980’s or the 1990’s.

If you want to see the graphics on these, you can check out this page on Wikipedia, which gives you a good sense of overall NBA popularity by year. (These are American ratings, by the way, I do think the NBA’s international interest has grown, but I think that’s because basketball, like soccer, is a global sport more so than football, for sure.

While there are tons of people who want to sell you on the NBA’s popularity in this country being insanely high, the reality is the ratings for the 2018 NBA Finals were nearly identical to the ratings for the 1974 NBA Finals. And the ratings for a LeBron-less finals are poised to fall off the cliff this year.

Especially if, god forbid, the NBA got a Rockets-Raptors final or something like that.

What could make things better? Well, I think the ceiling for the NBA is the Jordan era 1990’s and I’m not sure the league will ever produce those audiences again.

But I think giving the league some parity would help.

Which is why I’ve argued the NBA should give each team the ability to pay one player outside the salary cap. That is, if someone wanted to pay LeBron or Kevin Durant a $100 million a year, that should be permissible. Each team should have the right to pay one player as much as necessary outside the salary cap. In theory, this would mean the top thirty players in the league would all end up on thirty different teams.

Sure, someone could take less money, but the top players would all end up on totally different teams. Right now the money isn’t that much different between Oklahoma City and Golden State. So Durant had no qualms leaving Oklahoma City for the bay area. But would he have joined the Warriors dynasty if another team had been offering him $80 million a year?

Doubtful.

I think the marketplace needs to be unlocked in order for NBA competition to truly flourish and to break up the super team concept, but, and this is key, I think you have to keep the marketplace from being completely unlocked to keep parity from falling apart completely in favor of large market teams, which is why the salary cap would remain in place for the other players on the roster outside of the top thirty.

Chase writes:

“As you know, the final season of Game of Thrones is upon us.  There has been much speculation that many of the main characters are not going to make it through the season unscathed. Many theories surround Jon having to sacrifice himself to the Night King to save Westeros.  Next week, Avengers End Game hits theaters in what many think is the swan song for the original Avengers crew (Iron Man, Capt. America, Hulk, Thor).  Not coincidentally, all of them are still “alive” at the moment and were not the unlucky HALF of the population to bite the dust.  Many theories involve them avenging humanity in some way to defeat Thanos and restore everyone’s lives (We know the “dead” have to come back because Spider Man and Black Panther have upcoming sequels). With all of this said, out of Jon (Snow, Targareyan), Bran, Arya, Sansa, and Tony, which of the Starks do you think are most likely to live.  Which do you think are most likely to die?”

Man, this is going to change week to week as we get more evidence each Sunday, but right now I’d pick Jon to end up on the Iron Throne because I think, honestly, he’s the fulcrum of the show, the man who is both Ice, Stark, and Fire, Targaryen. So I feel like the only way the two elements can be balanced is by him and that the entire story, honestly, is about Jon rising to his destiny and learning how to become king.

My prediction right now is that Jon ends up on the Iron Throne and that Daenerys dies in childbirth, giving Jon an heir to the iron throne, as she dies. (I think Jon will call off his relationship with Daenerys because she’s his aunt, setting up a battle between the two of them over who should sit on the throne, which will eventually be extinguished by the birth of a child between them and Daenerys’s death).

I believe Jaime will end up killing Cersei and think there could be a symmetry in Jaime, who killed the mad king, being forced to kill Cersei, who has become the mad queen. I also think think there’s a good chance Jaime commits suicide after killing Cersei.

As for the Starks, I think Bran will eventually figure out how to warg himself into the Night King and kill the two of them together, both Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven. When Bran kills the Night King then all the other White Walkers will die as a result — remember, it has been hinted that when a “turner” dies all of the people he turned die as well — but Bran will die in this process too.

This will be the culmination of the battle with the white walkers and the survivors will then turn to march and confront Cersei Lannister in King’s Landing.

I think Sansa, Arya, and Jon all survive that final battle, with Sansa returning to Winterfell to rule as queen of the north there and Arya becoming the hand of the king, Jon Snow.

(Caveat: I still think we may learn that Tyrion is a Targaryen as well, which could create still more drama before all is said and done. But I think Tyrion will have to die as well, potentially at Cersei’s hand while trying to broker peace after the battle with the white walkers ends.)

Zach writes:

“We’ve been talking a lot about the Joe Biden #MeToo situation that has recently taken place, but I want to put a different take on it and read your thoughts.
First of all, I agree with you, and don’t think that Biden has done anything aggressive/assaulting etc. I can think of many 70 year old men and women in my hometown that love to put a hand on your shoulder give hugs etc.
However, I think a big issue which is not being discussed, is this new technological era that is causing many younger people to be uncomfortable with any human interaction.
Instead of going to the bookstore to buy Republicans Buy Sneakers Too, we order it off Amazon. Instead of going to the grocery store we order online, and pick up in our car. Instead of going to pick up food at a restaurant, an app delivers it to our house.
My real question: is this situation solely political? Or are we, as a society, entering into the beginning stages of an era where any real human interaction makes us uncomfortable, and physical contact with someone we aren’t related to is deemed an aggressive threat?”
This is such a fascinating question.
I think about this a great deal in my own life. I do my radio, TV, writing and Periscope/Facebook shows from my home office every day.
Much of my daily interaction with others is through text or social media.
Because of the way my day sets up, other than running out to the gym, I don’t interact in person with that many people on a day-to-day basis because I just don’t have time to do it.
I mean, I’m around my kids all the time and my wife and our nanny, but if you add in my parents — who live in our neighborhood — that’s like 99% of my social life.
And I was thinking about this the other day in the context of reading about how teenagers now really aren’t that eager to get their driver’s licenses. When I was a kid you couldn’t wait for you and your friends to get their driver’s licenses so you could hang out together. The driver’s license represented freedom.
But kids today feel like they’re constantly hanging out with their friends because of technology and I think that technology has also made them very fearful. (Teenage sex, alcohol and drug use continues to decline, which can be be very positive especially if you have teenagers, but is also an arbiter for risk taking behavior).
If you’re texting, SnapChatting and Instagramming all day with your friends do you really feel like you need to be physically present with them like we did when we were kids? Not as much, I don’t think. The result is you create a media cocoon for yourself where you don’t really have to come out and interact with anyone in face-to-face settings. Now school clearly offers a counterpoint to this cocoon, but what about when school ends?
The result is I think we’re creating a ton of socially maladroit young kids who spend their lives in two different worlds: the online one and the real one. Since the real world offers way more complexities than the online world, many prefer their lives in the online world.
Worst of all, and I think is where things become really significant, I think we’ve seen that humans are much more kind and forgiving in the real world than they are in the online world. The real world is full of nuance and complexity, all too often the online worlds we’ve created force binary choices upon us, which lead to tribalism and extremism.
I’m not sure how you put the social media genie back in the bottle, but I’m becoming increasingly worried that social media’s far more destructive than it is constructive.
That is, we have to be careful as a society that we don’t simply focus on tearing down things without a replacement that’s better. America has been great at creative destruction, the idea that ossified, bankrupt companies, for instance, should be replaced by younger, more vibrant companies, is the foundation of our dynamic capitalistic democracy.
But what if right now in our country we’re just tearing down everything and not constructing something new and better in its place? That’s kind of where I feel like our politics is right now. We’re destroying all of our powerful institutions and not replacing them with things that are better.
Destruction without accompanying creation is not a positive trajectory for our country or the world.

Alex writes:

“It was reported this morning that the first case of measles has finally made it to Tennessee thanks to the anti-vaxxer movement. This infuriates me on a number of levels, but mostly because it’s the result of ignorant people putting not only the lives of their children in danger, but also the lives of those who are physically unable to receive vaccinations themselves. What realistic steps, if any, do you think could be taken to combat this willful ignorance, protect the kids of these people, and get this disease back to the status it deserves: preventable.”

This is a great example of how social media can allow falsehoods to spread and grow.

The Internet provides us access to every possible source of information ever created. What it doesn’t provide us is the ability to distinguish between truth and fiction. Worse than that, it allows nefarious actors to spread disinformation, making it even more difficult to distinguish between true and false.

For instance, let’s go back to the Mueller report for a moment, the media has been obsessed with Russian collusion, but do you know what the Mueller report proves? The American media was the only group colluding with Russia. The Russians hacked the DNC and then used our free press to share the details they’d uncovered as widely as possible.

I want you to think about this for a moment — Russian counterintelligence exploited weaknesses in the DNC emails to hack those emails and then exploited our own media to ensure those emails were spread as widely as possible. That is, the Russians used our own media against us, spreading their infection throughout our democracy.

What’s ironic is that at least the emails were real. That is, they weren’t made up. But what’s to keep someone from manufacturing fake emails next time and spreading the information the same way? This Russian disinformation campaign wasn’t that sophisticated, it’s going to get much tougher from here.

Regardless, astonishingly, the American media had the gall to accuse Trump and his campaign of colluding with the Russians, when they were the actual ones colluding with the Russians. The result was destruction of trust in powerful American ideals, our very democracy itself.

Now, not surprisingly, Trump himself was not a deft player on the political stage and made this worse by panicking over the investigation and becoming convinced there was a conspiracy to bring him down.

If anything, Russia, which is famed for its grand masters in chess, may well have identified Trump as the best president for its interests not because they believed he would aid them, but because they believed they could render him hated by half our country, weakening the American political process in the process.

Again, this comes back to one my biggest theses that troubles me the most about our country: when did rooting for a president to fail become accepted in this country? I’m not saying you need to support everything a president does, far from it, but you should want the general trajectory of a presidency to be positive.

I think we’ve lost that.

Many people would rather the country have collapsed under Obama or Trump than to see the country do well.

Back to how this connects with vaccines, I think you need a strong, trustworthy government to convince people — and sometimes mandate to them — to do the smart thing.

Vaccines should be compulsory in this country, no doubt.

Tim writes:

“I found your synopsis on the Mueller Report informative and succinct. Looking ahead to 2020 how do you feel about the prospects of Trump retaining his electoral edge in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.  Do you think Rashida Tlaib helps his chances?

I am an advocate of freedom of speech and religion. That being said I find Tlaib and Omar’s political and societal views counter to traditional “Midwestern Values,” In the broader context I would be interested to know who you think is the face of the Democratic Party. Is there one? And if so, is said individual a unifying force?”

The biggest flaw in Democratic strategy has been the necessity to explain Trump’s rise by citing nefarious reasons. Racism, sexism, homophobia, Russian collusion, you name it, Democrats have tried to explain away Trump’s electoral victory by ignoring the actual reason: Trump won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin by 80,000 total votes.

If Hillary Clinton had won 80,000 more votes in these three states she would have won the election comfortably.

The reason why Trump won then? It isn’t Russia or racism or sexism or anything else, it’s because he won those states by a narrow margin.

Each party will enter 2020 with about twenty “safe” states in their electoral college map. The election will be decided by these 10 states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona.

The state that Trump has the best chance to flip on the above list is Minnesota, which he lost by just over 1% of the vote in 2016. (New Hampshire and Maine were very close in 2016 so you can add them to the potential list as well, but both are comparatively small in terms of electoral votes and you’d expect the Democrat to win both in 2020. Put it this way, if Trump wins New Hampshire and Maine this election probably won’t be very close).

If I were a Democrat who wanted to win in 2020 to make Trump a one-term president, I’d be focused almost exclusively on the Midwest. That’s where Trump won the election and where you could most easily punch back against him and snag the White House.

So I’d nominate someone who can win back Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin because Trump won each state by a sliver of voters.

Who do I believe has the best chance to win there of the current candidates? Joe Biden. (There’s a counter-argument to be made that Kamala Harris wouldn’t win back these voters Democrats lost, but she would win back the black voters who showed up to vote for Obama and didn’t vote for Hillary. These absent black voters would have won Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin for Hillary. These absent black voters, by the way, are almost certainly racist in the traditional sense — they were willing to vote for Obama because he was black, but weren’t willing to vote for Hillary because she was white (or maybe a woman, which would make them sexist instead). But you’ll never see these voters called racist because everyone knows only white people can be racist).

Regardless, I think the Democratic nomination is really down to five options at this point, even though there are twenty current candidates. And those options are as follows, which I’ll rank in the order I think they could win the election: Joe Biden, Beto, Mayor Pete, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders.

I think Bernie is the worst nominee the Democrats could put forward against Trump.

Which probably means the Democrats will do it. If they do, this will be 1972 all over again, when you have an eminently beatable Richard Nixon, but the Democratic party hadn’t him so much that they nominated George McGovern and he only won one state.

Now, to be fair, as I said above, we’re much more fractured now as a country so no matter who is nominated that nominee will win at least twenty states, but I think Trump would beat Bernie.

And I don’t think he’d beat Biden.

So the real question here will be this: will Democrats try to win social media or will they try to win the election? Because I think those goals may well be mutually exclusive.

Kurt writes:

“Now that the cat is out of the bag, how many more times does Jon Snow plow Daenerys before coming clean about being her nephew? On the same topic, how much do you think the cultural phenomenon, that is GoT, has contributed to the rise in popularity in incest porn? What say you King Solomon of the Internet?”

Given his moral code, I think Jon Snow has to cease the aunt-banging almost immediately.

As for incest being hot on porn sites, to be fair, most of that isn’t actual incest. It’s step-sister and step-mom porn.

But even I am blown away by how many people jerk off to this.

So much so that I’ve even tried to rationalize how this happens.

So here’s a series of five thesis statements to logically explain this. See if you follow my logic or buy my conclusion.

Thesis statement one: jerk off interests online are quite varied and substantially diverse. That is, there are many individual subsets of porn interest — amateurs, milfs, big boobs, college girls — which means that in order to be “popular” a particular subset doesn’t have to be that popular in terms of total numbers.

Put it this way, when there are twenty Democrats running for president, if you have 20% support, you have an audience, but it would still mean 80% of people prefer someone else

Thesis statement two: kids of divorced parents are more likely to have step-sister or step-mom porn fantasies because many of these fantasies emerge as these kids hit puberty, which is often when step-moms or step-families occur.

Thesis statement three: this step-mom or step-sister fantasy is considerably more “deviant” than traditional porn, meaning it is far more likely to be sought out privately online, where you aren’t judged for being aroused by it.

Thesis statement four: kids of divorced parents spend more time online than the kids of non-divorced parents.

Thesis statement five: the more time you spend online, the more time you spend jerking off.

Result of these five hypotheses all combined together: the jerk off habits of divorced kids are more prominently featured online than the jerk off habits of non-divorced kids, skewing the porn results to make porn of this type seem more popular than it actually is. That is, it may only be 12% of the Internet which likes step-mom and step-sister porn, but that 12% seems like a large percentage compared to the other subsets percentages.

Boom, where else can you find brilliant jerk off analysis better than this online?

Answer: nowhere.

Hope y’all have fantastic weekends.

Thanks for reading Outkick.

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