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The Woke make Biden’s “moderation” irrelevant

James Lindsay

November 23, 2020

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Let’s take a couple of things for granted at the moment. First, let’s take for granted that in the final analysis, the 2020 US presidential election will be decided in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (who must be mentioned—for, shall we say, reasons). Second, let’s accept the assumption that Joe Biden is genuinely a moderate Democrat and less likely than his history and record suggest to govern along with the trends, which on the left half of the universe right now are decidedly radical. Where would that leave us with regard to “Wokeness,” say like the Critical Race Theory President Trump successfully hamstrung in federal agencies and their contractors by means of executive order? 

Nowhere good.

Many people who are skeptical of or opposed to Critical Race Theory and the rather distinctly neo-Maoist flavor of Wokeness more generally vociferously supported Joe Biden and, presumably in most cases, voted for him in this election. They did so on the assumption that the best way to put a halt to the excesses of the Critical Social Justice movement—by which it should be known—would be to remove the irritant in chief, Donald J. Trump, and then take to fighting the culture war against CSJ properly, with the “but Trump!” defense removed from play. I’m not unsympathetic to this argument at the level of the culture war because it is, in fact, right. I think it misunderstands the nature of how the Critical Social Justice ideology works, however. 

It must be understood that Critical Social Justice is an administrative and bureaucratic ideology by its very design. It was formulated by activist academics to train not just activists but, very specifically, either people who will go on to produce the culture industry (like in media and arts) or who will become administrative bureaucrats where they can produce a kind of unaccountable policy that we find in HR departments, where pushback is irrelevant unless it’s from the top down. These sorts of people dream of positions not specifically of power and influence, like the presidency, but of training and administrative roles where they will receive relatively little scrutiny or opposition while they engage in their favorite activity of all: telling other people what to do, not directly, but through a shield of very official and institutionally binding paper.

For any of his late and thin comments about the violence that has rocked our streets for the last half of this year, Biden has given us absolutely no indication that he’s going to resist any of this bureaucratic totalitarianism. In fact, he’s done the opposite, using the language of the ideology, like saying he has a “mandate” from the voters (in an election that hasn’t yet even been decided, two weeks later) to take on “systemic racism,” and tapping individuals like Mehrsa Baradaran (who believes in full reparations) for the Treasury Department and Margaret Salazar (whose focus is on “cultural responsiveness”) for Housing and Urban Development. These come among roughly 500 more appointments to his administrative bureaucracy—so far—who allegedly express a commitment to racial justice, in line with precisely the racial equity programs touted by Biden and Harris on their campaign and now transition websites. In few domains has it been signaled that this will be more powerfully considered than in public health and the Covid-19 response, which Biden has already indicated will lead to a permanent position: “At the end of this health crisis, it will transition to a permanent Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force,” we’re told on the Covid-19 priorities page on Biden’s “Build Back Better” transition site.

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This renders Biden and, perhaps, Harris largely irrelevant to the “Woke” impacts of their election. They are, if you’ll accept the metaphor, “not the room.” These administrators are the room. Biden (and Harris, maybe) can be as moderate as moderate gets, and if even a modest fraction of the administrators in key departments favor the Critical Social Justice style of policy, that’s most of what we’ll get. So far, we have reason to suspect that at least an eighth of Biden’s administrative apparatus will be in that vein, including in key and powerful sectors like public health—to say nothing of apparatuses like the FBI.

What can we expect from these administrators under Biden the Irrelevant? Equity. Equity is intended to be brought into roughly every sector of the federal government, from education to jobs to banking to climate policy to public health—which will, itself, be used as a rather potent lever against the people. And what is equity? Equity is the adjustment of shares of resources in a society so as to make people or groups of people equal when certain disparities of outcomes exist. Equity is both the measuring stick and functional opposite of “systemic racism,” which is to say that which Critical Race Theory believes is the cause of all racial disparities that do not favor blacks, some Latinos (but not others), and members of other non-white races (under certain conditions).

How any of this will be resisted with entities like the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and so on, stuffed with people whose chief ambition in life is to order the affairs of others so that nothing against the Theory of Critical Social Justice is permissible or tolerated remains unclear. It was, in fact, for the clear-eyed, the central issue on the table in this election: who gets to control these unaccountable administrators? Someone permissive or even sympathetic, or someone who has indicated that he’s starting to understand the problem and is willing to take fair steps to stop it. And all of this goes even without considering that the Senate still hangs in the balance, its majority to be decided in Georgia’s January runoff elections.

In addition to skewing policy so that equity is a priority—indeed, Biden’s campaign website said that it will be achieved, which, in practice, will imply racial quotas, skewed admissions using diversity statements and other means, and other forms of redistribution of opportunities and resources, like preferential jobs investments into certain races but not others—we can also expect Biden will overturn Trump’s executive order that, nominally, “bans Critical Race Theory” training from the federal government and its contractors in certain capacities, though not universally. This is a curious matter, though, to anyone who has taken the ten minutes required to read the executive order itself (which is not long, not complicated, and not drowning in legalese). It’s worth lingering on the issue of this executive order, not because of its symbolic status of fealty or opposition to Critical Social Justice and Critical Race Theory, or even because of its practical effects, but because of the symbolic status that it implies about someone who wants it overturned.

First, let’s dispel a widespread and pervasive myth that seems so deliberately applied as to qualify as something simpler: a systematically pushed, disinforming lie. Trump’s executive order does not ban diversity training or racial sensitivity training, nor does it prohibit teaching the claims of Critical Race Theory in an academic fashion. This doesn’t need to be inferred, by the way. It’s actually explicitly in the order, in Section 10: 

Sec. 10. General Provisions. (a) This order does not prevent agencies, the United States Uniformed Services, or contractors from promoting racial, cultural, or ethnic diversity or inclusiveness, provided such efforts are consistent with the requirements of this order. (b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to prohibit discussing, as part of a larger course of academic instruction, the divisive concepts listed in section 2(a) of this order in an objective manner and without endorsement.

Now, what does it prohibit? Teaching as uncontested fact in workplace or academic training settings certain “divisive concepts,” as mentioned, among them race and sex stereotyping, race and sex scapegoating, that meritocracy is itself racist and oppressive, that discrimination should be acceptable, and teaching that the United States is itself an inherently racist or evil entity. The first of the listed concepts prohibited by the order is, to be clear, “(1) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.” One will notice, by the bye, that this order therefore would ban teaching white supremacy and patriarchy in addition to those portions of Critical Race Theory that do the same in a different way (which happens to be the functional core of it). This means that people who are against this order or who would overturn it—like Biden the Irrelevant—must support at least some of these things. 

It is incumbent upon us, in our relative powerlessness against the administrative state that we have presumably collectively empowered, to therefore ask that question repeatedly of Biden, Harris, and everyone else with enough power to be held accountable to it. If they want to (or will) overturn that executive order, which is it that they support: race or sex stereotyping, race or sex scapegoating, believing that merit is racist, racial or sex discrimination, or that America itself is racist or evil? Which things among these do they want taught as uncontested fact, by employer mandate, to our federal employees and employees of federal contractors? And why do they want these things taught, possibly in violation of the Civil Rights Act and other laws? These questions must be put to as many officials in this administration, including Biden and Harris themselves, and many officials in other institutions and organizations, as widely and as often as possible.

So long as we’re talking about things of this kind that Biden, Harris, and others need to be pushed upon as vigorously as possible by those with the courage to do it, is what protection is offered to the everyday American who cares about the relevant issues and yet does not subscribe to the tenets of this sociological faith. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and liberal secular humanism all have different views about race and racism than the Critical one—all of which could rightly be called “anti-racist.” Christians see neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free; all are Muslims in Islam; Buddhists see superficial features like race as worldly illusions; and liberal secular humanists believe that race and racism are matters of individual belief and action, not complex and indescribable systems of domination and power. What protections for their beliefs exist in our workplaces, our professional societies, our schools, and our public lives to hold these admirable beliefs as is guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution, the cornerstone of our republic?

Finally, on the issue of the Constitution itself, since Biden, Harris, and administration are already signaling support of and perhaps fealty to the doctrines of Critical Race Theory, they should be asked—and asked clearly and repeatedly—how it is that they intend to fulfill their oaths to the Constitution given that Critical Race Theory explicitly calls into question the very idea of neutral principles of constitutional law. In their own words, in Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, the authors are quite clear that Critical Race Theory is opposed to such an idea:

The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. (emphasis added)

 Given that this is the case—it is not mere interpretation or speculation—those who would support or install Critical Race Theory in our federal government and who would enable it within our country owe a tremendous debt of obligation to the American people to explain how they can thread the impossible needle of doing so while protecting and upholding their oath to the Constitution of the United States (if elected and sworn to do so) or its ideals (as responsible Americans mostly should). Sadly, this includes Biden and Harris, along with their administration, not to mention many lawmakers who, in having taken that same oath, should be put to the same basic American test. The questions must be asked, and clear answers must be given.

In summary, there is very little to suggest to me that the Biden administration that we have presumably elected to the highest office in the land and as the leadership of the free world for at least the next four years is prepared to safeguard its people on this issue. In fact, I see quite the opposite, based both upon knowing the Theory itself and understanding how it tends to implement itself through bureaucratic, administrative, and personnel training apparatuses. Whether right or wrong, we seemingly now have to play the game on the field set for us by anti-Woke Biden voters and do everything in our power to hold the relevant parties as accountable as possible.

James Lindsay

James is a bestselling author, mathematician, and internet thought leader.

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James Lindsay

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The Woke make Biden’s “moderation” irrelevant

James Lindsay

November 23, 2020

Let’s take a couple of things for granted at the moment. First, let’s take for granted that in the final analysis, the 2020 US presidential election will be decided in favor of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (who must be mentioned—for, shall we say, reasons). Second, let’s accept the assumption that Joe Biden is genuinely a moderate Democrat and less likely than his history and record suggest to govern along with the trends, which on the left half of the universe right now are decidedly radical. Where would that leave us with regard to “Wokeness,” say like the Critical Race Theory President Trump successfully hamstrung in federal agencies and their contractors by means of executive order? 

Nowhere good.

Many people who are skeptical of or opposed to Critical Race Theory and the rather distinctly neo-Maoist flavor of Wokeness more generally vociferously supported Joe Biden and, presumably in most cases, voted for him in this election. They did so on the assumption that the best way to put a halt to the excesses of the Critical Social Justice movement—by which it should be known—would be to remove the irritant in chief, Donald J. Trump, and then take to fighting the culture war against CSJ properly, with the “but Trump!” defense removed from play. I’m not unsympathetic to this argument at the level of the culture war because it is, in fact, right. I think it misunderstands the nature of how the Critical Social Justice ideology works, however. 

It must be understood that Critical Social Justice is an administrative and bureaucratic ideology by its very design. It was formulated by activist academics to train not just activists but, very specifically, either people who will go on to produce the culture industry (like in media and arts) or who will become administrative bureaucrats where they can produce a kind of unaccountable policy that we find in HR departments, where pushback is irrelevant unless it’s from the top down. These sorts of people dream of positions not specifically of power and influence, like the presidency, but of training and administrative roles where they will receive relatively little scrutiny or opposition while they engage in their favorite activity of all: telling other people what to do, not directly, but through a shield of very official and institutionally binding paper.

For any of his late and thin comments about the violence that has rocked our streets for the last half of this year, Biden has given us absolutely no indication that he’s going to resist any of this bureaucratic totalitarianism. In fact, he’s done the opposite, using the language of the ideology, like saying he has a “mandate” from the voters (in an election that hasn’t yet even been decided, two weeks later) to take on “systemic racism,” and tapping individuals like Mehrsa Baradaran (who believes in full reparations) for the Treasury Department and Margaret Salazar (whose focus is on “cultural responsiveness”) for Housing and Urban Development. These come among roughly 500 more appointments to his administrative bureaucracy—so far—who allegedly express a commitment to racial justice, in line with precisely the racial equity programs touted by Biden and Harris on their campaign and now transition websites. In few domains has it been signaled that this will be more powerfully considered than in public health and the Covid-19 response, which Biden has already indicated will lead to a permanent position: “At the end of this health crisis, it will transition to a permanent Infectious Disease Racial Disparities Task Force,” we’re told on the Covid-19 priorities page on Biden’s “Build Back Better” transition site.

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This renders Biden and, perhaps, Harris largely irrelevant to the “Woke” impacts of their election. They are, if you’ll accept the metaphor, “not the room.” These administrators are the room. Biden (and Harris, maybe) can be as moderate as moderate gets, and if even a modest fraction of the administrators in key departments favor the Critical Social Justice style of policy, that’s most of what we’ll get. So far, we have reason to suspect that at least an eighth of Biden’s administrative apparatus will be in that vein, including in key and powerful sectors like public health—to say nothing of apparatuses like the FBI.

What can we expect from these administrators under Biden the Irrelevant? Equity. Equity is intended to be brought into roughly every sector of the federal government, from education to jobs to banking to climate policy to public health—which will, itself, be used as a rather potent lever against the people. And what is equity? Equity is the adjustment of shares of resources in a society so as to make people or groups of people equal when certain disparities of outcomes exist. Equity is both the measuring stick and functional opposite of “systemic racism,” which is to say that which Critical Race Theory believes is the cause of all racial disparities that do not favor blacks, some Latinos (but not others), and members of other non-white races (under certain conditions).

How any of this will be resisted with entities like the Department of Education, Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, Housing and Urban Development, and so on, stuffed with people whose chief ambition in life is to order the affairs of others so that nothing against the Theory of Critical Social Justice is permissible or tolerated remains unclear. It was, in fact, for the clear-eyed, the central issue on the table in this election: who gets to control these unaccountable administrators? Someone permissive or even sympathetic, or someone who has indicated that he’s starting to understand the problem and is willing to take fair steps to stop it. And all of this goes even without considering that the Senate still hangs in the balance, its majority to be decided in Georgia’s January runoff elections.

In addition to skewing policy so that equity is a priority—indeed, Biden’s campaign website said that it will be achieved, which, in practice, will imply racial quotas, skewed admissions using diversity statements and other means, and other forms of redistribution of opportunities and resources, like preferential jobs investments into certain races but not others—we can also expect Biden will overturn Trump’s executive order that, nominally, “bans Critical Race Theory” training from the federal government and its contractors in certain capacities, though not universally. This is a curious matter, though, to anyone who has taken the ten minutes required to read the executive order itself (which is not long, not complicated, and not drowning in legalese). It’s worth lingering on the issue of this executive order, not because of its symbolic status of fealty or opposition to Critical Social Justice and Critical Race Theory, or even because of its practical effects, but because of the symbolic status that it implies about someone who wants it overturned.

First, let’s dispel a widespread and pervasive myth that seems so deliberately applied as to qualify as something simpler: a systematically pushed, disinforming lie. Trump’s executive order does not ban diversity training or racial sensitivity training, nor does it prohibit teaching the claims of Critical Race Theory in an academic fashion. This doesn’t need to be inferred, by the way. It’s actually explicitly in the order, in Section 10: 

Sec. 10. General Provisions. (a) This order does not prevent agencies, the United States Uniformed Services, or contractors from promoting racial, cultural, or ethnic diversity or inclusiveness, provided such efforts are consistent with the requirements of this order. (b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to prohibit discussing, as part of a larger course of academic instruction, the divisive concepts listed in section 2(a) of this order in an objective manner and without endorsement.

Now, what does it prohibit? Teaching as uncontested fact in workplace or academic training settings certain “divisive concepts,” as mentioned, among them race and sex stereotyping, race and sex scapegoating, that meritocracy is itself racist and oppressive, that discrimination should be acceptable, and teaching that the United States is itself an inherently racist or evil entity. The first of the listed concepts prohibited by the order is, to be clear, “(1) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.” One will notice, by the bye, that this order therefore would ban teaching white supremacy and patriarchy in addition to those portions of Critical Race Theory that do the same in a different way (which happens to be the functional core of it). This means that people who are against this order or who would overturn it—like Biden the Irrelevant—must support at least some of these things. 

It is incumbent upon us, in our relative powerlessness against the administrative state that we have presumably collectively empowered, to therefore ask that question repeatedly of Biden, Harris, and everyone else with enough power to be held accountable to it. If they want to (or will) overturn that executive order, which is it that they support: race or sex stereotyping, race or sex scapegoating, believing that merit is racist, racial or sex discrimination, or that America itself is racist or evil? Which things among these do they want taught as uncontested fact, by employer mandate, to our federal employees and employees of federal contractors? And why do they want these things taught, possibly in violation of the Civil Rights Act and other laws? These questions must be put to as many officials in this administration, including Biden and Harris themselves, and many officials in other institutions and organizations, as widely and as often as possible.

So long as we’re talking about things of this kind that Biden, Harris, and others need to be pushed upon as vigorously as possible by those with the courage to do it, is what protection is offered to the everyday American who cares about the relevant issues and yet does not subscribe to the tenets of this sociological faith. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and liberal secular humanism all have different views about race and racism than the Critical one—all of which could rightly be called “anti-racist.” Christians see neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free; all are Muslims in Islam; Buddhists see superficial features like race as worldly illusions; and liberal secular humanists believe that race and racism are matters of individual belief and action, not complex and indescribable systems of domination and power. What protections for their beliefs exist in our workplaces, our professional societies, our schools, and our public lives to hold these admirable beliefs as is guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution, the cornerstone of our republic?

Finally, on the issue of the Constitution itself, since Biden, Harris, and administration are already signaling support of and perhaps fealty to the doctrines of Critical Race Theory, they should be asked—and asked clearly and repeatedly—how it is that they intend to fulfill their oaths to the Constitution given that Critical Race Theory explicitly calls into question the very idea of neutral principles of constitutional law. In their own words, in Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, the authors are quite clear that Critical Race Theory is opposed to such an idea:

The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars engaged in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, setting, group and self-interest, and emotions and the unconscious. Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law. (emphasis added)

 Given that this is the case—it is not mere interpretation or speculation—those who would support or install Critical Race Theory in our federal government and who would enable it within our country owe a tremendous debt of obligation to the American people to explain how they can thread the impossible needle of doing so while protecting and upholding their oath to the Constitution of the United States (if elected and sworn to do so) or its ideals (as responsible Americans mostly should). Sadly, this includes Biden and Harris, along with their administration, not to mention many lawmakers who, in having taken that same oath, should be put to the same basic American test. The questions must be asked, and clear answers must be given.

In summary, there is very little to suggest to me that the Biden administration that we have presumably elected to the highest office in the land and as the leadership of the free world for at least the next four years is prepared to safeguard its people on this issue. In fact, I see quite the opposite, based both upon knowing the Theory itself and understanding how it tends to implement itself through bureaucratic, administrative, and personnel training apparatuses. Whether right or wrong, we seemingly now have to play the game on the field set for us by anti-Woke Biden voters and do everything in our power to hold the relevant parties as accountable as possible.

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We hope you had a great weekend.  There was a lot to keep you busy: Taylor Swift's new album, college football, Timothee Chalamet playing a Soundcloud rapper on SNL, the NFL, alcohol, The Queen's Gambit, and incredible weather (at least in DC).  

Today we will see the first wave of vaccinations in the US.  It's a bittersweet day. On the one hand, it's thrilling to know we're beginning the process that willl protect the most vulnerable among us and eventually end the pandemic. Yet it's hard not to reflect on the tragedy Covid-19 has caused as we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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News for meetings:

At long last, a stimulus:  To make a stimulus actually happen, a bipartisan group of Senators has split the stimulus proposal into 2 bills; a larger one ($748B) containing less controversial funding, and a smaller one ($160B) containing more controversial funding. The current proposal doesn't include another round of $1,200 checks

After the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians became the second pro sports team to drop their Native American-inspired/mocking team name. Go Cleveland Car -Washers, anyone?

Distribution of Pfizer's Covid vaccine is underway, with vaccinations hopefully beginning today. Doses need to be stored at extremely low temperatures, making distribution a challenge. Santa, time for you to step up

After taking flack for shutting down indoor dining in NYC, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by a former staffer. "I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks," she tweeted on Sunday

News for happy hour:

PetListed rated Birmingham, AL the most cat-friendly city in America. Following Birmingham were Portland, Madison, and Richmond

Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit" has inspired a lot of new chess players to log onto Chess.com. It turns out that many of these newcomers are cheaters: Chess.com shut down over 18,000 accounts in November for cheating

A University of Florida defender chucked the cleat of an LSU player after a huge third down stop with 1:50 to go in Saturday's game. The unsportsmanlike penalty cost the Gators the game and a potential playoff spot. Some are calling the game the "Cleat Yeet"

Disney World has stopped photoshopping masks onto mask-less riders. It turns out that digitally superimposing masks onto funnel cake-eating humans will not prevent the spread of highly contagious viruses

Impress your date:

Watch out, Mr. Fox! After Denmark killed millions of its mink to stop the spread of Covid, fur producers want foxes to fill the gap. The price of fox pelts is expected to soar

How do you say X Æ A-Xii in Indonesian? Tesla is considering major investments in Indonesia, which is home to precious minerals - like nickel - needed for Tesla battery production

Who invented the podcast?

Few forms of media (mediums?) have exploded quite like the podcast in recent years. The Daily, Call Her Daddy, the Joe Rogan Experience - these shows bring entertainment, information, and NSFW weekend escapades to millions of listeners weekly. But how did they come to exist? And who even coined the term "podcast"?

That would be Ben Hammersley, a reporter for The Guardian, who wrote in 2004 that because of iPods, blogs, and cheap audio software, "all the ingredients are there for a new boom in amateur radio."

"But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?" he asked.

And so podcasting was born.

Prophetically, in that article, Hammersley interviewed an ex-NYT and NPR journalist who he refers to as a "a pioneer in the field." NYT and NPR are now among the most powerful, if not the most powerful, businesses in podcasting today.

Yet beyond the name, podcasting was largely the invention of two men: Dave Winer - called "the father of blogging" by the BBC - and Adam Curry - an MTV radio host. Dave Winer created what many consider the first blog in 1994, named Scripting News. His basic idea was to let normal people publish their writing to the internet. Through that process, he created a way for people to connect their content to feeds, which others could read.

Curry loved the idea, and contacted Winer to figure out how to apply it to audio. In brief, the challenge was recording the audio, packaging it, and sharing it to the internet in a way others could access. Winer cracked the code (literally). On the other end, Curry created a program for Apple that could identify the files, download them, and sync them to an iPod. This is now referred to as a "podcatcher."

All of the above happened in the early 2000s, and it was 2004 when Hammersley coined the term "podcast." By the end of that year, Esquirereports that a Google search for "podcasts" scored 500 results. One year later, it yielded 100,000,000. Podcasting started to blow up in 2005, and never slowed down.

The proliferation of smartphones, YouTube, and cheap data has only accelerated this. According to Deloitte, podcast revenues are now at $1.1B. That puts it below esports ($1.3B) and audiobooks ($3.5B), and at a fraction of recorded music ($21B) or radio ($42B). But the growth in podcasting has been exponential, and is expected to continue. Deloitte forecasts that the industry will bring in $3.3B by 2025.

To close this out, here's a list of today's top podcasts ranked by Edison Research.



So there it is: A brief history of the podcast. Send your thoughts to Max@RocaNews.com, and let us know what you want to hear about next. Thanks for reading the Roca Rundown!As always, we love hearing from you. Please send your thoughts, feedback, and ideas to Max@RocaNews.com.

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Like LMFAO in 2009, Biden is saying, "Shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots..." He says 100M Americans will be vaccinated in his first 100 days

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News for meetings:

  • Civil liberties group FIRE released its annual report, and claimed that 88% of colleges restrict free speech. Notre Dame and Harvard were among the worst offenders
  • Sayonara, San Fran: Months after Cali Governor Gavin Newsom said Elon Musk wouldn't dare leave his state, the Tesla inventor has officially moved to Texas
  • Hey, I ordered a double! The FDA has reported that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective, even after just one shot, although side effects are common
  • All talk? Both Biden and Trump have made big promises about Covid vaccine availability, but it seems the US isn't on pace to have enough doses

News for happy hour:

  • The three most-tweeted about TV shows in 2020 were "The Last Dance," "Tiger King," and "The Bachelor"
  • Spotify’s 2020 wrapped for advertisers said podcast listenership jumped 108%, and the “chill” genre hit the top of the charts  
  • The Dallas Cowboys have their worst record through 12 games since 1989
  • Marvel's Spider-Man 3 (2021) has a star-studded cast that includes Zendaya, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Jamie Foxx. Yesterday we learned that past Peter Parkers Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield will join as well

Impress your date:

  • Joe Exotic has asked the ultimate moral authority - Kim Kardashian - to secure his pardon. He's serving a 22-year sentence for falsifying wildlife records and violating the Endangered Species Act
  • Bae-jing: A Chinese spy seduced her way across the American political scene, sleeping with midwestern mayors to gain precious intel
Mark Zuckerberg, will you find me a girlfriend?

Wait, what - you're not on Facebook Dating?

Roca HQ was shocked last night to find out that Facebook has a dating platform, called Facebook Dating, built into the Facebook app. It launched last September, and somehow appears to have flown way under the radar.

Like other dating apps, you start by selecting your gender (options are “cis woman,” “trans woman,” “cis man,” “trans man,” and “non-binary person”), romantic preferences, and answering icebreaker questions. The swiping process is Hinge-esque, where you can either like a photo or comment on an icebreaker.

Facebook says the algorithm finds matches based on proven interests across your Facebook profile, so the experience is more organic and less curated than on other apps. It defaults to excluding your friends as potential matches, although it tells you how many mutual friends you have with the people you see.

Perhaps most exciting about Facebook Dating is its "secret crush" feature, where you can (secretly) express interest in up to 9 friends. They won't be notified unless they have expressed interest in you, too. Mark Zuckerberg has officially eliminated the risk in telling a friend you've loved them that middle school dance grind-session.

While other dating apps are far from inspiring, when we think of Facebook, we think of Jimmy the nose-picker from algebra class who now uses the platform to post his political manifestos. But maybe we're being too harsh. After all, true love often waits where people least expect it.

Have any of you tried Facebook Dating? Did any of you even know it exists? Should Roca try it out and report back next week? Send your thoughts & experiences to Max@RocaNews.com.
As always, we love hearing from you. Please send your thoughts, feedback, and ideas to Max@RocaNews.com.

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A vaccine update & TikTok's royal couple

Today's Carney Cover

The scheduling of the Ravens-Steelers game is becoming more suspenseful than the game itself. Originally set for the primetime slot on Thanksgiving night, the game has changed dates four times due to shifting Covid circumstances. If Lamar isn't growing a gray beard already, he will be soon.

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The UK is copying off our homework.
Pfizer's vaccine could become available in the UK in just six days, poising the UK to become the first Western country to approve and give its citizens a Covid vaccine. China and Russia have distributed their own home-grown vaccines, though there's no transparency with their process or final product. For all we know, they could be injecting high-fructose corn syrup into their citizens.


Pfizer remains UK citizens’ best hope for immunity as its domestically produced AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective during trials. Thus, the UK could essentially cheat off our homework and get the benefit of our brilliance before we do! Of course (!) we're all in this together, but the British used to be our colonial masters. They do not deserve to become our epidemiological ones as well.

Politics

Fauci anticipates a "surge superimposed on the surge" from Thanksgiving traveling and congregation. Prior to Thanksgiving, we saw record daily cases and hospitalizations. An uptick during this peak period could create the Covid-ception Fauci is talking about.

CNBC contributor and former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb estimates that we're catching just 1 in 5 Covid cases. This is encouraging in that it implies much lower fatality & hospitalization rates but discouraging in that we're underestimating its prevalence. Gottlieb expects 30% of the country to have caught the virus by year-end.

See more political news on Roca

Business

You might associate Whole Foods with health-nut hippies who would more likely vote for a bag of flax seeds than a Republican for elected office. However, its CEO sounded off on socialism at a DC think tank. He called it "trickle-up poverty," and said liberal professors are brainwashing our students against capitalism.

If you thought that Bitcoin eclipsing its 2017 high of 19,000 was impressive, get ready for 2021! According to investment firm BTIG, Bitcoin's "coming of age" is underway and the cryptocurrency will hit $50,000 in 2021.

See more business news on Roca

Culture

A random 38-year-old guy stole the original Darth Vader helmet from JJ Abrams' Bad Rabbit Productions studio. He robbed the place of valuable Star Wars memorabilia, packed it in a shopping cart, and didn't make it far before the police arrested him.

Addison Rae and Bryce Hall are officially back together, making them TikTok's royal couple (sorry, Noah Beck & Dixie D'Amelio). After months of speculation, the ~steamy~ photoshoot and YouTube video professing their love confirmed their romance.

See more culture news on Roca

Sports

The Seahawks flew past the Eagles last night for a deceptively close 23-17 win, given that the Eagles scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with 12 seconds to go. DK Metcalf caught 10 of Russell Wilson's passes for 177 yards.

LSU and Alabama play this weekend for the least-hyped matchup between these two teams in a while. Last year, for context, LSU-Bama was a #2 vs #3 matchup with the SEC West and inside playoff track on the line. This year, LSU's 3-4 record and Bama's dominance bode poorly for another thriller.

See more sports news on Roca

Roca's Latest

Max & Max sat down for a conversation with WTFBrahh, one of the funniest channels on YouTube. They make rap remixes of moments from current events and politics. Watch or listen to the interview here.

Watch or listen here

Max Frost argues that critics’ hating Hillbilly Elegy is a “them” problem, not a movie problem. The movie was fine, but film critics’ liberal politics led them to hate it.

Read it here

Christmas, Comms, & Croods 2

Today's Carney Cover

Though Black Friday online shopping was up 22%, in-store sales plummeted 52%. Retail outlets derive a huge chunk of their annual sales from holiday shopping, so this bodes poorly for already-struggling retailers.

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The first Christmas-19.


"Momma, for Christmas this year, I'd like a vaccine."

"Aww that's so sweet, Timmy."

"Make it Moderna. And booster shot included."

"But Timmy, you're 8. Why do you have a preference?"

"I read Roca, momma. And after investing $1.36 in 0.0000001 Bitcoins, I need to think about these things now."

Christmas this year will be bizarre. By late December, experts predict that thousands or even millions of Americans will have received a Covid vaccine, though the pandemic will still be raging. Christmas spirit, pandemic fatigue, and a brightening outlook for herd immunity will only complicate things, and likely put some extra Covid in America's stocking.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Politics

Joe Biden fractured his foot this weekend playing with his dog. He will be in a boot for several weeks. You often hear about the difficulty of being president, but nobody discusses the bone-splitting challenges of being president-elect.

Biden announced the appointees for his communications team, and it will be the first-ever all-female one. The White House comms operation has historically been overwhelmingly male. Long-time Democratic strategist Jen Psaki (below) will serve as press secretary.

See more political news on Roca

Business

Black Friday in-store sales are down 52% from last year, while online sales were up 22%. Jewelry and footwear stores were the hardest-hit by the Black Friday shopping drop-off.

Top oil companies and OPEC countries are meeting to discuss oil production plans. They originally agreed to increase production and lower prices by up to 35%, but now there's a strong possibility the group will delay this boost.

See more business news on Roca

Culture

Lindsay Lohan appeared on her mom's podcast and said that she would love to have a role in the Mean Girls sequel. The movie has been long in the making, and Lindsay wants to be a part of it. Lohan says she keeps up with her co-stars and that they remain "good friends."

DreamWorks’ animated sequel The Croods: A New Age brought in $9.71M over the weekend -- the biggest weekend for a movie since March. Only 38% of theaters in US & Canada are open, and while Covid is a concern for moviegoers, we think catching it might be preferable to watching Croods 2.

See more culture news on Roca

Sports

From 2015-2017, the Browns won four games total. After yesterday's 27-25 win against the Jaguars, Cleveland is 8-3 and in second place in the AFC North. Baker, Chubb, and Jarvis led the way on offense, while the Myles Garrett-less defense did just enough to win.

Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill put up video game numbers in the first half of the Chiefs' 27-24 victory over the Buccaneers. With Mahomes lighting up the air, Tyreek had over 200 receiving yards... in the first quarter. The Bucs scored 14 unanswered in the 4th q, but the Chiefs hung on to move to 10-1.

See more sports news on Roca

Roca's Latest

Max Towey was simping HARD this weekend, so much so that he put together his list of the 15 female movie characters who are “impossible not to fall in love with.” Hermione and Catwoman made the list…but did the Little Women?

Read it here

Caroline Bryant spent a year studying at Oxford, and came away from the experience understanding that 3 things in particular make the university the world’s most legendary. She writes about them here.

Read it here

Roca now has a video correspondent – Bo Dittle, from Cookville, TN. Bo hit the streets of Nasvhille to ask people to sign crazy petitions. Watch the video here.

Watch it here

Roca wishes you a pleasant, productive, and happy day.

As always, send your thoughts, feedback, and interesting stories to Max@RocaNews.com!

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Copyright © *2020* *RocaNews*, All rights reserved.

Aliens, Cuomo, & Tebow walk into a newsletter

Today's Carney Cover

While Trump hasn't conceded the election, he is now allowing Biden's team to begin a formal transition. Yesterday, Trump called the election the “most corrupt“ in American political history. Don't expect a kumbaya moment anytime soon.

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United States of Alien Believers.


Today on our website -- which we have made some major improvements to and recommend you all check out -- we shared the story of a UFO encounter by a helicopter pilot in rural Utah. Aliens and UFOs have been a major part of the news cycle over the last couple years, and 2020 is the first year where people would like to be abducted by them.


It's been over a year since the Storm Area 51 craze got millions of RSVPs on Facebook. While nobody stormed Area 51 (we would know -- we were waiting outside the gate, pitchforks in hand), alien infatuation continues especially as some of our wealthiest billionaires try to colonize space.

But do most Americans actually believe in aliens? Uhh... yes. 57% of Americans believe that intelligent life and civilization exist on other planets. 45% believe that aliens have visited Earth via UFOs, and according to Gallup, 16% of US adults even claim to have personally seen a UFO.

Politics

Former Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen is Biden's nominee for Secretary of the Treasury. She will be the first woman to hold this position. Markets reacted favorably and are confident she'll break out her toolbox when necessary to fix the economy.

Andrew Cuomo's family Thanksgiving plans are officially out the window! After public backlash over Governor Cuomo's plan to see his 89-year-old mom despite telling New Yorkers to call off their own plans, Cuomo says he'll be working all day instead.

See more political news on Roca

Business

Elon Musk is now tied with Bill Gates as the world's second-richest person. Elon has been on a rampage recently, surpassing Zuckerberg last week and matching Bill Gates this week.

Jim Cramer says it's time to update your portfolio to include stocks that would benefit most from a return to normalcy. With a more optimistic herd immunity timeline, it might be time to look at names like Royal Caribbean, Boeing, Levi's, Gap, Disney, & others who've lost out big-time during the pandemic.

See more business news on Roca

Culture

Jeopardy has decided that it won't choose a long-term replacement host for Alex Trebek just yet, but instead will feature a series of interim hosts. The first one will be Ken Jennings, the most successful Jeopardy guest in history. Ken won millions from the show and came out on top in 74 consecutive games.

It's impossible to watch Goodfellas or The Sopranos and not feel at least a slight attraction to mafia world. But be assured -- it's not all a nostalgic fantasy. The DOJ just charged 15 members of Mafia group "La Casa Nostra" including Tony Meatballs, Big Vic, and Louie Sheep. We don't endorse drug trafficking or illegal gambling, but we fully and unambiguously endorse the name "Tony Meatballs."

See more culture news on Roca

Sports

Tom Brady didn't shake Jared Goff's hand after last night's Bucs-Rams matchup. That's all you need to know from that game. LA won 27-24 and sealed the victory by picking off Brady with 2 minutes to go. The Rams now control their destiny in the NFC West.

Tim Tebow's regular TV commercial appearances and job as an ESPN college football analyst might mislead you to believe that he's done with the whole "play in the MLB" thing. That, however, is not the case. Mets GM Sandy Alderson confirmed yesterday that Tebow is still looking to make it in the big leagues.

See more sports news on Roca

Roca's Latest

It doesn’t matter if Biden is a moderate, writes James Lindsay, if his administration is staffed with a bunch of woke administrators who can enforce “equity” right under his nose. This piece caused quite an uproar on social media…

Read it here

Many successful athletes and musicians have gone on to create their own business empires. Esports stars are starting to do the same, and Hauk Nelson writes about the man leading the trend.

Read it here

Roca wishes you a pleasant, productive, and happy day.

As always, send your thoughts, feedback, and interesting stories to Max@RocaNews.com!

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Today is a bad day to be a restaurant in Los Angeles

Today's Carney Cover

Starting on Wednesday, Los Angeles is forcing all restaurants to shut down to curb the spread of Covid. The ban includes outdoor dining. This move could prove the final nail in the coffins of struggling LA restaurants.  

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The new iOS emojis are fire.

Usually an iOS update means that Tim Cook and Apple are trying to crash your old iPhone so that you have to buy the new one. But Apple has completely redeemed itself with the below batch of new emojis in its latest iOS update. Here are some of the more notable ones:


First of all, we would like to commend the Italian-American community for surviving without that "finger-pinching" emoji on the top row until now. This new emoji is like the Rosetta Stone for Italian-Americans. It has unlocked a world of meaning.

Also, that wooly mammoth emoji will really come in handy! Impossible to have a normal conversation without it. And the fondue one – is that what the red one with the cross is? – is all you need to invite your Hinge date to the Melting Pot.

Politics

With the strong vaccine results from Pfizer and Moderna, the timeline for reaching herd immunity is becoming clear. The top scientist for "Operation Warp Speed" said that the first Americans should be immunized on December 11 and that we could reach herd immunity by May!

Back of the line, Brits! Initial results were released for the leading British vaccine candidate, produced by AstraZeneca and Oxford. The vaccine proved 60-90% effective, depending on how it was administered. Pfizer’s and Moderna’s are both 95% effective.


Chris Christie called Trump's legal team "a national embarrassment" for their failure to present compelling evidence to support their voter fraud allegations. He's a confidant to Trump and two-time Trump voter, but he joins the Republican leaders condemning Trump's post-election fight.

See more political news on Roca

Business

Guitar Center filed for bankruptcy. Sure, the Dow Jones may not rise and fall on the back of Guitar Center, but it is the largest retailer of musical instruments and equipment in the country. Covid proved the final blow and jeopardizes the future of its 300 stores across the country.

One of the all-time great frauds, Elizabeth Holmes (below), is requesting that the jurors for her trial aren't allowed to hear about her luxurious lifestyle while she was CEO of Theranos. Elizabeth Holmes became the youngest self-made woman billionaire through her fraudulent message that Theranos could detect diseases through one or two drops of blood. Long story short, it couldn't.

See more business news on Roca

Culture

The American Music Awards (AMAs) got STEAMY last night. Taylor Swift won her third consecutive Artist of the Year award, though she was not in attendance. Her absence was largely unnoticed as J-Lo and Megan Thee Stallion stole the show with their risqué performances.

A Florida man won the internet -- dominated the internet, really -- by saving a puppy from the mouth of an alligator while smoking a cigar. He didn't drop the cigar for the entire video. As Roca contributor Siraj Hashmi tweeted, this man (below) needs a medal of honor and a statue.

See more culture news on Roca

Sports

Joe Burrow's season ended yesterday with a gruesome knee injury that has been diagnosed as a torn ACL. The first pick of the 2020 draft and top ROTY contender went down in the 3rd q. Get better, Joe! We know you'll be back in no time.

Trailing the Raiders 31-28 with 30 seconds to go, Patrick Mahomes found Travis Kelce for a 22-yard score. As magical as Mahomes is, it was his first-ever go-ahead TD pass with 2 minutes or less left in the game.

See more sports news on Roca

Roca's Latest

The month’s hottest Netflix show is all about the queen – and it isn’t The Crown! Caroline Bryant reviewed the Queen’s Gambit, a thrilling show about chess, life, and addiction that she thinks beats the hype.

Read it here

Throughout Trump’s presidency, his opponents have decried him as a uniquely dangerous threat to democracy, a fascist, a Nazi – you name it. If these people actually believed the things they said, wouldn’t it be their moral duty to stop him from getting elected at all costs? Thad Russell makes the argument here.

Read it here

Roca wishes you a pleasant, productive, and happy day.

As always, send your thoughts, feedback, and interesting stories to Max@RocaNews.com!

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Copyright © *2020* *RocaNews*, All rights reserved.

Contact us:
info@rocanews.com

November 20, 2020

Today's Carney Cover

The CDC strongly recommends virtual gatherings for Thanksgiving this year. For those who do gather in person, the CDC suggests eating outdoors and having guests bring their own food and utensils. Or if you just want to eat alone, see how Kevin did it in Home Alone!

Oh, Friday, you oasis in the weekday desert.

Yesterday we showed you a map of states by alcohol consumption. Today we bring you a map of states by coffee consumption. For all you data nerds reading this, we used Google search volume as a proxy for coffee consumption.


Only one state in the top ten, Vermont, lies east of the Mississippi River. We're not sure what Lewis & Clark did on their journey out west to ensure that its future inhabitants would be filling up Keurigs 24/7. Can anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest explain the coffee craze up there? Also, you gotta love that Hawaii clocks in at #1!

Happy Friday, Roca fam! The Roca wave grows every week, and we are honored to have you riding it with us.

Politics

Rudy Giuliani can't catch a break. Yesterday, he may have topped the recent Four Seasons Landscaping-hosted (instead of the Four Seasons Hotel) enthralling debacle with his reenactment of a scene from My Cousin Vinny. His hair appeared to melt down both sides of his face (see below).


Pushing back against Giuliani's case of mass voter fraud was Georgia's announcement yesterday that its vote recount re-affirmed Biden's win. But forget the pollsters, what would My Cousin Vinny have to say?  

‍Business

Remdesevir, the anti-viral drug that Trump took during his bout with Covid, is a no-go according to the WHO. The WHO is discouraging doctors from administering the drug to Covid patients, saying there is no proof it helps them. Gilead's stock (GILD), the maker of Remdesevir, is down 1.4% today.

Feds say that Venmo, Cash App, & other payment apps were used to launder enormous sums of money from the Payment Protection Program (PPP). A secret service agent specializing in money fraud told CNBC he's never seen this much fraud in his 28-year career.

Culture

TikTok star Charli D'Amelio might be the most famous 16-year-old in the world, but her goodwill just hit a major speed bump. The D'Amelio family's first YouTube dinner has caused MAJOR backlash. Charli and her sister Dixie acted snotty and entitled throughout, causing Charli to lose 1M followers in the last day. She subsequently cried during an Instagram Live, asking for sympathy.


With current global diet trends, 1.5B people are likely to be obese in 2050. God made a mistake in making the seventh day of creation a day of rest. Humans have taken rest and really run (sorry, wrong verb) with it.

Sports

Even an avid Warriors hater can't help but feel sorry for Klay Thompson. After sitting out last year from a torn ACL, Klay just tore his Achilles during a workout and will likely miss another season.



Russell Wilson and the Seahawks (7-3) bested the Cardinals (6-4) last night to stay atop the NFC West. Kyler had the ball to win at the end but he and DeAndre Hopkins, a newly minted 99 overall on Madden, couldn't summon last week's magic.

Roca's Latest

The best part about Thanksgiving – bringing families together – is also what makes it so stressful: You’ve got cousin Libby arguing with Uncle Johnny, and Grandma Norma screaming at toddler Joey. Thankfully, Roca’s Rachel Van Nes interviewed a professional conflict mediator, and emerged with the top 7 tips for navigating arguments and conflict around Thanksgiving.

Read it here

Roca wishes you a pleasant, productive, and happy day.

As always, send your thoughts, feedback, and interesting stories to Max@RocaNews.com!

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Sign up for the Roca Rundown here!

Election update: The referees are still in the booth

After a wild night, this election could be far from over. When you checked your phone this morning, you probably did not expect to see so much gray on the electoral map. Seven critical swing states are still undecided: Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada, implying 94 up-for-grabs electoral votes. The current scoreboard has Trump at 213 delegates and Biden at 227. The stars are beginning to align in Biden's favor as Trump would need to win Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and one of the other four. Trump may pull out the first three, but that last state is increasingly unlikely to go his way as Dem-heavy mail-in ballots continue to tally up.

If you want a sense of the kind of 24 hours it's been, we put together the below chart on the trajectory of election odds from yesterday afternoon to today.


So who's gonna win? It's looking like Biden, but there is a lot of ball left to be played.


By the way, the polls were once again terribly wrong -- comically wrong. Let's take Ohio, for example. The Buckeye State was supposed to be a toss-up, slightly leaning in Trump's direction (polling averages showed him +1). He won the state by 8 points. We would hate to pick on a specific poll but Quinnipiac (morons!) had Biden +4 in their final Ohio poll this week making them 12 points off! 12!!

Politics

Let's talk about the Senate now. You may recall that the Dems were the favorite to seize control of the Senate, but instead the GOP will retain control after winning a couple upset races and closing out toss-ups. Of note: Lindsey Graham is beating his opponent Jaime Harrison (the most financially-backed Senate candidate in history) by 13 points, and Mitch McConnell won his seat easily.

The Democrats will retain the House.

Now back to the White House. How the hell did Trump defy the odds to make the race a nail-biter? Well, he grew his base substantially and also outperformed expectations among Hispanic voters.

See more political news on Roca

Business

Stock futures went nuts last night given all the election turbulence but the Dow is now up 2% as of 10:30 am.

Don't you hate it when one of the companies you financially backed delays its IPO? Well I'm sure you can relate to Alibaba founder Jack Ma then, who lost $3B due to the delayed IPO of financial services company Ant Group.

See more business news on Roca

Culture

Drake just landed his 21st No. 1 hit on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart, taking him past Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder for the most all-time.

Lil Wayne's endorsement of Trump may have boosted the president's momentum, but it certainly didn't help Weezy's love life. His model girlfriend, in fact, broke up with him because of it.

See more culture news on Roca

Sports

The Bucs activated Antonio Brown for Sunday night's game against the Saints. Get ready for the return of AB! This time with that Tom guy playing QB...

James Harden to the 76ers?! It may sound crazy, but sources with inside knowledge say that both parties are interested in a potential trade.

See more sports news on Roca

Roca's Latest

If you’re sick of the tension around the elections, read the special election day Roca HQ trends report. We report on our intern’s concern that Billy is not eating enough vegetables, Max Towey’s questionable habit of disappearing into the “content cave” for hours at a time, and Max Frost’s seemingly impossible mission to removed processed foods from his diet.

Read it here!

Also, Max Frost’s piece wrote about why he’s voting to decriminalize shrooms may have swung that vote: The measure passed in DC with over 70% of voters saying “YES!”

Read it here!

Roca wishes you a pleasant, productive, and happy day.

As always, send your thoughts, feedback, and interesting stories to Max@RocaNews.com!

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News should be fun

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James Lindsay

James is a bestselling author, mathematician, and internet thought leader.

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The Sizzle breaks down the day's hottest topics in politics, culture, and society. Follow RocaNews @RideTheNews to get all Roca updates as they happen.

James Lindsay

James is a bestselling author, mathematician, and internet thought leader.

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Who created the podcast?

We hope you had a great weekend.  There was a lot to keep you busy: Taylor Swift's new album, college football, Timothee Chalamet playing a Soundcloud rapper on SNL, the NFL, alcohol, The Queen's Gambit, and incredible weather (at least in DC).  

Today we will see the first wave of vaccinations in the US.  It's a bittersweet day. On the one hand, it's thrilling to know we're beginning the process that willl protect the most vulnerable among us and eventually end the pandemic. Yet it's hard not to reflect on the tragedy Covid-19 has caused as we finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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News for meetings:

At long last, a stimulus:  To make a stimulus actually happen, a bipartisan group of Senators has split the stimulus proposal into 2 bills; a larger one ($748B) containing less controversial funding, and a smaller one ($160B) containing more controversial funding. The current proposal doesn't include another round of $1,200 checks

After the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians became the second pro sports team to drop their Native American-inspired/mocking team name. Go Cleveland Car -Washers, anyone?

Distribution of Pfizer's Covid vaccine is underway, with vaccinations hopefully beginning today. Doses need to be stored at extremely low temperatures, making distribution a challenge. Santa, time for you to step up

After taking flack for shutting down indoor dining in NYC, NY Gov Andrew Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by a former staffer. "I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks," she tweeted on Sunday

News for happy hour:

PetListed rated Birmingham, AL the most cat-friendly city in America. Following Birmingham were Portland, Madison, and Richmond

Netflix's "The Queen's Gambit" has inspired a lot of new chess players to log onto Chess.com. It turns out that many of these newcomers are cheaters: Chess.com shut down over 18,000 accounts in November for cheating

A University of Florida defender chucked the cleat of an LSU player after a huge third down stop with 1:50 to go in Saturday's game. The unsportsmanlike penalty cost the Gators the game and a potential playoff spot. Some are calling the game the "Cleat Yeet"

Disney World has stopped photoshopping masks onto mask-less riders. It turns out that digitally superimposing masks onto funnel cake-eating humans will not prevent the spread of highly contagious viruses

Impress your date:

Watch out, Mr. Fox! After Denmark killed millions of its mink to stop the spread of Covid, fur producers want foxes to fill the gap. The price of fox pelts is expected to soar

How do you say X Æ A-Xii in Indonesian? Tesla is considering major investments in Indonesia, which is home to precious minerals - like nickel - needed for Tesla battery production

Who invented the podcast?

Few forms of media (mediums?) have exploded quite like the podcast in recent years. The Daily, Call Her Daddy, the Joe Rogan Experience - these shows bring entertainment, information, and NSFW weekend escapades to millions of listeners weekly. But how did they come to exist? And who even coined the term "podcast"?

That would be Ben Hammersley, a reporter for The Guardian, who wrote in 2004 that because of iPods, blogs, and cheap audio software, "all the ingredients are there for a new boom in amateur radio."

"But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?" he asked.

And so podcasting was born.

Prophetically, in that article, Hammersley interviewed an ex-NYT and NPR journalist who he refers to as a "a pioneer in the field." NYT and NPR are now among the most powerful, if not the most powerful, businesses in podcasting today.

Yet beyond the name, podcasting was largely the invention of two men: Dave Winer - called "the father of blogging" by the BBC - and Adam Curry - an MTV radio host. Dave Winer created what many consider the first blog in 1994, named Scripting News. His basic idea was to let normal people publish their writing to the internet. Through that process, he created a way for people to connect their content to feeds, which others could read.

Curry loved the idea, and contacted Winer to figure out how to apply it to audio. In brief, the challenge was recording the audio, packaging it, and sharing it to the internet in a way others could access. Winer cracked the code (literally). On the other end, Curry created a program for Apple that could identify the files, download them, and sync them to an iPod. This is now referred to as a "podcatcher."

All of the above happened in the early 2000s, and it was 2004 when Hammersley coined the term "podcast." By the end of that year, Esquirereports that a Google search for "podcasts" scored 500 results. One year later, it yielded 100,000,000. Podcasting started to blow up in 2005, and never slowed down.

The proliferation of smartphones, YouTube, and cheap data has only accelerated this. According to Deloitte, podcast revenues are now at $1.1B. That puts it below esports ($1.3B) and audiobooks ($3.5B), and at a fraction of recorded music ($21B) or radio ($42B). But the growth in podcasting has been exponential, and is expected to continue. Deloitte forecasts that the industry will bring in $3.3B by 2025.

To close this out, here's a list of today's top podcasts ranked by Edison Research.



So there it is: A brief history of the podcast. Send your thoughts to Max@RocaNews.com, and let us know what you want to hear about next. Thanks for reading the Roca Rundown!As always, we love hearing from you. Please send your thoughts, feedback, and ideas to Max@RocaNews.com.

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