2022 Numlock Sunday Specials Archive
2022 Sunday Editions
I wanted to have a place for all the collected subscriber-only Sunday interviews all in one place. If you’d like to read these and aren’t sure if you want to subscribe, I’ve made it really easy to sign up for a one month free trial to the paid subscription and read whatever you like.
To make up for the two-weeks-of-no-Sunday special, did a quick ask-me-anything because last year this was pretty fun!
I spoke to two wonderful guests, sports journalists Holly Anderson and Spencer Hall of the Shutdown Fullcast, who just announced they’re launching their new project, Channel 6. Hall and Anderson have been central to online college football coverage since the founding of Every Day Should Be Saturday in 2005. Spencer and Holly can be found on Twitter, @edsbs and @hollyanderson, and at their brand new venture Channel 6.
I spoke to Eben Novy-Williams, who wrote “Fanatics to Buy Topps in $500M Deal as Trading Card Biz Zooms into 2022” for Sportico. I’ve been dying to have Novy-Williams on because I’ve been following the news from Sportico all year about a number of really thrilling stories, from the trading card business to the Broncos litigation and more. The space has been incredibly busy and exciting lately. Novy-Williams can be found at Sportico, and on the Sporticast, where he’s a host.
I spoke to my friend and former FiveThirtyEight colleague Chris Herring whose book Blood in the Garden: The Flagrant History of the 1990s New York Knicks is out this week. It’s an incredibly deeply-reported work about a fascinating era of sports that will never and can never happen again. Chris is a fantastic writer, the book’s a great read and can be found wherever books are sold.
I spoke to Cecilia D'Anastasio, who wrote “The Gritty, Underground Network Bringing Japan’s Arcades to the US” for Wired. It’s an incredible exploration of globalization, of cultural shifts in Japan, about underground digital networks, of fandom, it’s just got everything. I was so excited to talk to Cecilia about her quest to get MUSECA, an arcade game, into her home. Cecilia D'Anastasio can be found on Twitter, and earlier this week started her new job at Bloomberg; you can find her there.
I spoke to Natasha Gilbert who wrote “The Search for What’s Harming Florida’s Beloved Bonefish” for Hakai Magazine. We spoke about how pharmaceuticals get into the watershed, why large manufacturers share lots of the responsibility, and how wastewater treatment needs to improve to save the bonefish. Natasha Gilbert can be found at her website, Instagram and on Twitter.
I spoke to Philip Bump of the Washington Post, who a few weeks ago launched his newsletter How To Read This Chart. I’m a longtime fan of Bump’s work at the Post; he’s a really compelling writer and an outstanding blogger and has been weaving data journalism throughout his work so organically for such a long time I wanted to have him on for a podcast version of the Sunday edition to talk about the state of the art and the newsletter. Bump can be found at the Washington Post and on Twitter, and his newsletter How To Read This Chart can be found here.
I spoke to Clare Malone, writer at The New Yorker, my former FiveThirtyEight colleague and the host of the brand-new podcast from The Ringer called Just Like Us: The Tabloids That Changed America. Clare’s brilliant, and Just Like Us, which premiered last week, is a perfectly-timed revisiting of early 2000s tabloid culture. It’s about a media shift that fundamentally changed the relationship between famous people and their fans, between viewers and the media, and between the internet and the rest of the world. It’s a great angle on an incredibly relevant question: What is celebrity culture doing to culture? Clare can be found on Twitter, at The New Yorker, and you should check out the new show, Just Like Us, which is available wherever you can find podcasts.
I spoke to Rachael Dottle, who wrote “The Global Glut of Clothing Is an Environmental Crisis” for Bloomberg. It’s incredibly visual, so I highly recommend clicking through and checking it out; Rachael does amazing work with graphics and it’s such a fascinating read. Rachael can be found at Bloomberg and on Twitter.
I spoke to Lawrence Lenhart, who wrote “How to clone a black-footed ferret” for High Country News. loved the story because it’s a longtime scientific dream made into a reality. Using genetic technology to inject new vitality into ailing species has been promised since the beginning of genetic technology, and now it’s happening. Lenhart can be found on Twitter, and he’s got a book coming out about the ferret this year that you should keep an eye out for.
I spoke to Ben Eisen who wrote Car Dealerships Don’t Want Your Cash—They Want to Give You a Loan for The Wall Street Journal. We spoke about why dealers are incentivized to get you a car loan, why the aggregate amount owed is exploding, and whether you need to be worried about the rise of subprime lending. Ben Eisen can be found at The Wall Street Journal and on Twitter.
I spoke to Jasmine Estrada, a producer of the new Marvel podcast The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther. The podcast can be found at Marvel and at The History of Marvel Comics: Black Panther, and you can listen to it on SiriusXM and Apple Podcast for its initial run and then wherever you get podcasts a short time after. Jasmine can be found on Twitter and behind a few of Marvel’s other shows, including Marvel's Pull List.
I talked to Jason Eppink and Mike Lacher, two of the minds behind the earth-shattering, ground-breaking, definitely not tongue-in-cheek, not peer-reviewed study Chalamet Coughs, Dune Wins: Predicting Best Picture Winners Using Coughs and Sneezes, which they made with The Pudding’s Russell Goldenberg. They can be found at their respective websites.
I spoke to Alex Silverman who wrote Formula 1 Fandom in the United States Is Up 33% Since 2020, Thanks in Part to Netflix Series for Morning Consult. I loved this story because I have not been able to evade F1 conversations and Alex is so damn good at talking about the big picture of sports. Alex can be found at Morning Consult, where he covers sports, and on Twitter.
I spoke to Alison Griswold, who just restarted one of my favorite newsletters, Oversharing, which is all about companies in the sharing economy. We spoke all about what’s changed, and how the sharing economy has an effect on the world. Griswold can be found at Oversharing.
I spoke to Sophia Smith Galer, the author of the new book Losing It: Sex Education for the 21st Century. Her new book explores all the urban myths about sexuality that thrive in an information-poor environment, how the lack of comprehensive sex ed causes pervasive and at times lifelong hangups, and how other places are able to secure better long-term outcomes through different approaches. She can be found at Twitter, TikTok, and the book is available wherever books are sold.
We’re joined by Wellesley College historian Kellie Carter Jackson, who along with Leah Wright Rigueur is the host of the brand new podcast Oprahdemics. We talked about Oprah’s impact on the arts, the wellness industry that launched in her wake, how influencers learned from Oprah’s playbook and how American society would be unrecognizable without this person. Oprahdemics can be found wherever you get your podcasts.
I spoke to Dave Infante, who writes the outstanding newsletter Fingers all about the alcohol industry. We spoke about our favorite lawsuit which revealed a number of fascinating secrets about the beer industry, why the bill for a lot of craft breweries is about come due, how alcohol fuels power in America and if Keystone Light is just cruddy Coors. Infante can be found at Fingers, which I highly recommend, and on Twitter.
I spoke to Ben Lindbergh who wrote “How Can MLB Fix Its Too-Many-Pitchers Problem?” for The Ringer. The story of baseball’s troubles — how a game appears to become less dynamic and interesting the more that we come to understand it — is an incredibly fascinating one, as are the myriad ways that people want to improve the game. This story and this shift have some serious promise, and Ben’s been advocating for this kind of change for sometime. Ben can be found at The Ringer. He’s also got a podcast at Fangraphs called Effectively Wild, he’s on The Ringer’s Better Call Saul recap podcast, and is on Twitter.
I spoke to Maggie Koerth, who wrote “America Has A Thing For Hippo Parts” for FiveThirtyEight. We spoke about why the hippo is in the ironic position of being specifically undesirable but, because it’s the most available exotic animal, killed and turned into leather goods on a surprisingly massive scale. Maggie can be found at FiveThirtyEight and on Twitter.
I spoke to the brilliant Ed Zitron, of the excellent Where’s Your Ed At newsletter. Lately, Ed’s been writing about two major topics, one being companies attempting to drag their workers back into an office, and the other being cryptocurrency exploiting retail investors. He’s one of the most forceful critics of the various hucksters shilling crypto, and the past several weeks have demonstrated that his skepticism is absolutely warranted. Ed can be found at his newsletter and on Twitter.
I spoke to Karen Hao, who wrote four stories — South Africa’s private surveillance machine is fueling a digital apartheid, How the AI industry profits from catastrophe, The gig workers fighting back against the algorithms and A new vision of artificial intelligence for the people — all about how many of the ways that AI gets made today relies on the labor, resources, insight, and minds of people in developing countries largely for the benefit of people in rich countries. I talked to Karen about the series, and what she’s up to next. Hao can be found on Twitter and at the Wall Street Journal, where she covers tech in China.
I spoke to Chris Ingraham, who wrote a fascinating series of stories about air pollution including “Why dirty air hurts kids more” for The Why Axis. I’m a huge fan of Chris’ newsletter, The Why Axis, and his decision to devote an entire month to the incredibly important but often overlooked issue of air quality is a great example of why. Chris can be found at The Why Axis and on Twitter at @_cingraham.
I spoke to Kaitlyn Tiffany, the author of the new book Everything I Need I Get From You, out this week. The book is a deep dive into the nature of fandom, and how fangirls have been instrumental in the design, growth and evolution of the internet and social media. It’s a great look that combines digital culture and pop culture. The book can be found wherever books are sold, and Tiffany can be found at The Atlantic and on Twitter.
I spoke to Ryan Broderick, who wrote “Twitter invented a Clippy for cyberbullying” for his newsletter Garbage Day. Ryan’s newsletter is my favorite read. It’s a delightful dive into the daily morass of internet culture, memes, trends and more; he’s the Virgil, we’re the Dantes, and we’re all having a good time on our field trip into the abyss. Definitely check it out. We spoke about the Twitter study, the current state of internet discourse, and furries. Ryan can be found at Garbage Day, his podcast the Content Mines, and Twitter.
I spoke to culture writer Alissa Wilkinson, who wrote the new book Salty: Lessons on Eating, Drinking, and Living from Revolutionary Women. We spoke about why food is such a great lens to view people we can’t meet, how Hannah Arendt’s radical views on friendship got her through unpleasant times, and some of the stories of particularly resilient people in the book that might give people encouragement in times of uncertainty. Salty can be found wherever books are sold, on audiobook, and Wilkinson can be found on Twitter and Vox.
I spoke to Amanda Shendruk, who wrote Quartz investigation: H&M showed bogus environmental scores for its clothing for Quartz. We spoke about what sustainability actually means in fast fashion, the problems with the numbers the industry’s group came up with, and the fallout from this investigation. Amanda can be found at Quartz.
I spoke to Alexander Kaufman, who wrote The Netherlands, Facing Energy And Climate Crises, Bets On A Nuclear Revival for HuffPost. We spoke about what’s going on in the Netherlands and how nuclear is revolutionizing how countries like Finland, Romania and Japan address a dire global moment for energy needs. He can be found at HuffPost, on Twitter and he’s got a really great newsletter that you should check out that updates when he drops a new big story.
I spoke to Russ Mitchell, who wrote ‘We are killing people’: How technology has made your car ‘a candy store of distraction’ for The Los Angeles Times. I loved this because distracted driving is so often understood just to be about phones, when in reality the distraction is increasingly built into the very vehicle itself. Mitchell’s piece connects decades of research to talk about what the issue here really is. Mitchell can be found at The Los Angeles Times, on Twitter and at his website.
I spoke to John Jackson Miller, who wrote “Comics and graphic novel sales grew over 60% in 2021” for Comichron. We spoke about the unprecedented pop in sales and why it’s coming from unexpected areas, how the business reshuffling in the pandemic has fundamentally changed the level of disclosure we have about the comic industry, and what’s driving the changes. John can be found at Comichron, on Twitter and he’s the author of a new book coming out this winter, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — The High Country, as well as a really delightful library of work in the universes of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and more.
I spoke to Hannah Weinberger, who wrote “'Murder hornet' gets new, more ethical, name” for Crosscut. We spoke about why names matter, especially when it comes to nonnative or “invasive” species, why the name “invasive species” has some issues in and of itself, and the process by which a nationally important bug gets a new name. Weinberger can be found at Crosscut and on Twitter at @Weinbergrrrrr. You can also follow her newsletter here.
I spoke to Frank Pallotta in part one of a two-parter about the state of the entertainment industry just after the big summer box office. Recently Frank appeared in Numlock with a piece about how it’s kind of a ghost town out there. This week, we talked about why this summer has Frank cautiously optimistic about the future of movies, how we’ve seen a resurgence in movies based on non-comic book IP, an old school format coming back, and Top Gun. Frank can be found on Twitter and at CNN Business.
I spoke to Frank Pallotta in part two of a two-parter about the state of the entertainment industry just after the big summer box office. This week, we’re talking about why stars don’t seem to have their heart in it while making a movie for a streamer and what on earth is going on in China. Frank can be found on Twitter and at CNN Business.
I spoke to Chris Geidner who launched Law Dork earlier this spring, a new newsletter all about the rapid changes happening in American courts and law. This has been a really dynamic couple of months in the legal world, and Chris has been there to cover it. Today, we talk about why this moment is fundamentally different than previous times where the court entered the conversation, and what’s changing. Geidner can be found on Twitter and at Law Dork.
I spoke to Saleah Blancaflor, who wrote “In the Battle of ‘House of the Dragon’ and ‘The Rings of Power,’ the Real Winners Are Fantasy Fans” for Morning Consult. We spoke about the fiasco surrounding The Flash, the two massive blue chip fantasy series dropping head to head, and the slight uptick in superhero fatigue. Saleah can be found at Morning Consult and on Twitter.
I spoke to Ashley Carman, who covers the audio industry at Bloomberg and who just launched a new newsletter called Soundbite. We spoke about the massive behind-the-scene shifts going on in the podcasting business, why this is such a unique time for podcasts, and why all these large technology companies are trying to do in audio what Google did on the web. Carman can be found at Bloomberg, where she writes the newsletter Soundbite.
I spoke to Mandy Zou, who wrote The Big [CENSORED] Theory for The Pudding. This is such a cool story, it involved a ton of assiduous legwork, and as a result we’re able to get a one-of-a-kind look into what’s actually on the minds of censors. It’s a super innovative story and it’s really visually striking as well. You can follow her on Twitter.
I spoke to Max Fisher, author of the new book The Chaos Machine: The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World. It’s a fascinating book that looks at the science — the neurology, the social science, the psychology — of what social media usage does to us. It’s riveting and provocative and will definitely change the way you view social media apps. The book can be found wherever books are sold, online and IRL and at independent bookstores. Max is on Twitter at @max_fisher
I spoke to Kate Bernot, who wrote Everybody Else — Outside of Mexican Beer, Imports Are a Jumble of Mixed Trends for Good Beer Hunting. I loved this because it takes a prevailing story — imported beer is doing great! — and peers just beneath the surface to find out that actually, it’s really just Mexican beer, and even further, it’s pretty much just one single company. We spoke about what’s going on in the import market, how Japanese beer companies are looking to the U.S. to save their business, and the ongoing carbon dioxide crisis. Kate can be found on Twitter and at Good Beer Hunting.
I spoke to Charlie Hall, who wrote “The high price of Disney Lorcana cards is a good sign for fans of collectible card games” for Polygon. love the coverage of tabletop games and trading card games at Polygon; they do really phenomenal work in the space and are so full of big ideas about a type of gaming that has often flown under the radar. A lot of that ambition derives from Hall, the tabletop editor at the site, and I wanted to have him on to chat about what’s been a remarkable couple of years in the niche. Hall can be found at Polygon and on Twitter.
I spoke to Paul Szoldra, who writes The Ruck, a newsletter I’ve really come to enjoy about national security. I thought it’d be great to bring him on to discuss some particularly fascinating stories he wrote recently about the future of drones in warfare and why planning is so essential when the military production pipeline is measured in years. Paul can be found at TheRuck.news, on Twitter, and on LinkedIn. He’s also the founder and editor of the iconic Duffel Blog.
I spoke to Rebecca Leber, who wrote “The most annoying barrier to getting your home off fossil fuels” for Vox. Heat pumps fascinate me because they’re a ready-to-go climate solution that has made significant improvements over the past couple decades, and there are still impediments to rolling them out, impediments that Leber excellently talks about in her piece. Leber can be found at Vox and on Twitter.
I spoke to Eric Vilas-Boas who wrote If Rotoscoping Isn’t Animation, Nothing Is for Vulture. Eric is brilliant on the topic of animation, he was one of the founders of The Dot and Line animation blog and is one of the most plugged-in writers on the topic these days. We spoke about why the awards scene around animated film is chaotic, why it’s a demoralizing moment to be in the field, and how streaming has upended the industry. Eric can be found at @e_vb_ and at Vulture.
I spoke to Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine, who wrote “The Crypto Story” takeover of Bloomberg Businessweek. Levine writes Money Stuff, a newsletter and column at Bloomberg, one of the most illuminating and engaging reads about money and finance. When you’re informed that Matt Levine has written a massive single-issue spanning treatise on crypto, you drop what you’re doing, read it, and then try to get him to talk to you for your newsletter about it. “The Crypto Story” is great; it’s an evenhanded look at the premise and the promise of this tech. I spoke to Matt just ahead of publication this past Tuesday.
I spoke to Sarah Frier about what’s become a somewhat disastrous quarter for social networking companies. Facebook has seen its company’s value crash this year amid serious investment in unproven metaverse businesses, and last week marked Elon Musk’s first as the top dog at Twitter. Sarah is the author of No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram, all about the company that served as a major rival to Twitter and a massive acquisition for Facebook. She’s also the big tech editor at Bloomberg.
I spoke to Pat Garofalo, who writes the Boondoggle newsletter all about corporate subsidies and monopoly power in American government. We talked about how the best predictor of a state doling out corporate tax incentives is a governor up for reelection, how different candidates were helped and hurt by their stances on these issues, and we revisited the HQ2 debate several years later to see who really came out ahead. Pat can be found at Boondoggle , on Twitter at @Pat_Garofalo, and at the American Economic Liberties Project and Fight Corporate Monopolies.
I spoke to Alison Griswold who wrote Instant delivery curse and The gig economy is a bust in the public markets for Oversharing. We spoke about the bubble popping in instant delivery, the enormous amount of red ink across all the publicly traded sharing economy companies, Bird’s troubles amid the broader scooter crisis, and the very real possibility that Ali’s beat is becomes a smoking crater. Ali can be found at Oversharing and on Twitter.
I spoke to Julia Alexander, the streaming expert that writes a column over at Puck News called What I’m Hearing+ and is the director of strategy at Parrot Analytics. We spoke about Bob v. Bob, Avatar, how movie distributors accidentally trained audiences over the course of the pandemic, and what’s next for the Mouse. Alexander can be found at Puck News’s What I’m Hearing+ and at Parrot Analytics and @loudmouthjulia.
I spoke to Sabrina Imbler, the author of the new book How Far the Light Reaches: A Life in Ten Sea Creatures. Imbler’s a writer at Defector and is one of my favorite science writers; they specialize in coverage of new science being done in the animal kingdom, and I have been really excited for the book out this week. The book is ten essays that examine the lives of animals that live in the ocean, and explores how their lives and Sabrina’s reflect one another in really compelling ways. The book can be found wherever books are sold, particularly independent shops, and Imbler can be found on Twitter and at Defector.
I spoke to Taylor Orth, who wrote “Many Americans say not in my backyard to prisons and homeless shelters” for YouGov. I loved this survey design; it’s incredibly clever and really is a great way to figure out the various different fault lines in the debate over different kinds of development. Orth can be found at YouGov and on Twitter.
I spoke to Cameron Easley of Morning Consult about their forthcoming Seen, Read, Heard year-end feature. This will be the fifth time I’ve closed out the year on this feature, which rounds up all the polling Morning Consult did in 2022 and really gets at the heart of what news people were paying attention to. This year’s edition of the survey drops on Monday, but they were kind enough to give us a little sneak peek. Cameron can be found at @Cameron_Easley and Morning Consult.