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

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The lede

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thinking ahead

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

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