Why it matters: California's new privacy law made a big splash in terms of the demands it places on companies with an online presence, but the law's impact on brick-and-mortar organizations has so far flown a bit under the radar. Retailers, in particular, have long been spending big on technology to track the behavior of consumers once they enter a store. The new law requires companies to notify consumers of such tracking programs. This story details how those notification efforts have been hit-or-miss.
Why it matters:We are about halfway through January, so that means many of you are halfway through the first month of your New Year's resolution. If your resolution involves the use of a fitness tracker, you'll want to read this article. It turns out some trackers aren't all that accurate when it comes to ... you know ... tracking.
Why it matters: It appears marketers have figured out that a society of people who can do more and more from the comfort of their own home might appreciate ad campaigns that appeal to coziness. But it's not just couch and bedding companies, everyone is getting cozy.
"Domestic cozy" vs. "Premium mediocrity": The best quote from the article is this nugget from Venkatesh Rao of Ribbonfarm that attempts to explain the cozy trend:
"Instagram, Tinder, kale salads, and Urban Outfitters are premium mediocre. Minecraft, YouTube, cooking at home, and knitting are domestic cozy. ... Premium mediocrity expends enormous energy preserving the illusion of normalcy. Domestic cozy slouches into the weirdness and simply ignores it."
Why it matters:The most recent ranking of the best countries in which to raise a child saw Scandinavian countries take gold, silver and bronze. Denmark topped the list -- which factors in things like safety, human rights and family friendly laws -- followed Sweden and Norway.
We did a poll about Africa last week, so today let's do one about Scandinavia.
Why it matters: Two things jump out as notable in this piece about the secret to career success. One is that Harvard included 9 million people in its study. The other is that the biggest key to a person's success might be the skill sets of their co-workers.
Why it matters: My prediction last week that James Holzhauer would win the "Jeopardy!" Greatest of All Time tournament didn't come true last night, as Ken Jennings took the title in dramatic fashion. The match was up for grabs going into Final Jeopardy, which was about Shakespearean tragedies, and Ken shocked me by betting zero (although he didn't shock me by getting the right answer of "Who is Iago?" -- his wide range of knowledge throughout the game was incredible). James bet everything, as he tends to do, but he guessed wrong -- "Who is Horatio?" -- so he and third competitor Brad Rutter went home with $250,000 each, while Ken got $1 million. All in all, I think the tournament was great television -- and it wound up being a great tribute to host Alex Trebek as well. -- Cathy
Why it matters: If you are a pet owner who just knows that your pet has a favorite song, favorite band or favorite genre of music, Spotify has launched playlists for your loved one. A dog-centric podcast has also been unveiled that features narrators offering "dog-directed praise" to calm the nerves of pooches that might be left home alone.
Why it matters: This story probably means little to people who don't follow financial news, but it is definitely a head-scratcher for people who track misdeeds in the markets. When Navinder Sarao was arrested back in 2015, authorities went to great lengths to lay the blame for the Flash Crash of 2010 at his feet. Sarao is set to be sentenced later this month and those same authorities have now done an about-face and recommended he serve no additional jail time.
Sarao the scapegoat: Although he pleaded guilty to two crimes, many industry insiders feel Sarao, who has been diagnosed with autism, was a fall guy because he was doing what many traders do. In fact, I was at a financial industry conference right after Sarao was initially charged and one of the speakers on the main stage asked everyone in the audience to raise their hand if they thought Sarao was to blame for the Flash Crash. That room was full of representatives from some of the most sophisticated trading firms on the planet. Not a single hand was raised.
So yeah, maybe Sarao shouldn't be serving any more time in jail. Maybe he shouldn't have ever served any.
Why it matters: This section of WYWW is called "The Dagger Ball" in reference to the term I use when an athlete makes a killer pass that cuts through the opposition's defense so perfectly that it leads to an easy score.
Today, this oral history about Stuart Scott reminds me of the dagger the sports world felt when cancer took his life five years ago. He will always be cooler than the other side of the pillow.
Why it matters: OG WYWW readers might recall narwhals hold a special place in the annals of this newsletter. These "unicorns of the sea" are majestic, but precious little is known about them. For example, did you know some male narwhals can grow not just one, but TWO tusks?!?!
Why it matters:Kudos to Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of Themis Trading. Market jitters yesterday inspired Saluzzi to come up with a pop culture way of describing investors' mentality. "We're in a Jason Bourne market," Saluzzi explained. "The first thing Jason Bourne does when he walks into a room is look for the exit, just in case." That's pretty funny.
Why it matters: Brewers have realized the same principles that have been used to develop genetically modified organisms in food and other products can also be applied to beers. So far, GMO beers are niche and haven't received very positive taste reviews, but something tells me that will eventually change. But should it?