Tony Romo Calls Plays Before They Happen. How Often Is He Actually Right? – By Ben Cohen and Andrew Beaton Jan. 30, 2019

The voice of the Super Bowl has become known for his eerily accurate predictions. We watched nearly 50 hours of game tape to calculate Romo’s hit rate. ‘You’re kidding,’ he says.

ATLANTA—Tom Brady broke the huddle in overtime of the AFC Championship last weekend with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line. Sitting high above the field that day was a football psychic wearing a blazer, tie and headset, who peered into the future and told CBS’s television audience of 54 million what they were about to watch.

“New England tried play action earlier. I can’t see it here,” Tony Romo said. “This has to be a run.”

By that point Romo had correctly predicted three of New England’s crucial plays on the drive. What happened next was once again exactly as he described. Brady took the snap and handed the ball off for a game-winning touchdown to send the Patriots to yet another Super Bowl.

This is Romo’s seemingly supernatural talent: the ability to call plays before they happen.

Romo will be the voice of the biggest event on television as the lead analyst for the Super Bowl on Sunday, but the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback is already a broadcasting phenomenon. He has a rare gift that revealed itself as soon as he stepped in the booth last season, and his pre-snap predictions have since earned him more attention than almost everyone playing in the actual Super Bowl.

But every psychic’s claims deserve a healthy dose of skepticism. And so The Wall Street Journal sifted through 46 hours of footage to review every play in every game that Romo called this season. Yes, all 2,599 of them.

“You’re kidding me,” Romo said in an interview this week.

We’re not. It was the only way to answer one of the more intriguing Super Bowl questions: How often are Tony Romo’s predictions actually right?

He made a total of 72 predictions on air this season. But one thing he couldn’t predict: his own accuracy. Romo lowballed that he was right 21% of the time. He was wrong about that. His actual hit rate was 68%, according to the Journal’s calculations.

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Will Your 2019 Tax Refund Be Sweeter Than Usual? – By Richard Rubin Jan. 25, 2019


We use ice cream to break down how new tax laws could affect your refund, depending on your deductions

Now that the new tax law is in place, your deductions and refunds may not look the same as last year. WSJ’s Richard Rubin gives us the scoop on what’s changed, and how your return could be sweeter (or less sweet) than years past.

Will Your 2019 Tax Refund Be Sweeter Than Usual? – By Richard Rubin Jan. 25, 2019 2:30 am

Now that the new tax law is in place, your deductions and refunds may not look the same as last year. WSJ’s Richard Rubin gives us the scoop on what’s changed, and how your return could be sweeter (or less sweet) than years past.

Apple cracks down on Facebook after it paid teens for access to their data – Julia Carrie Wong First published on Wed 30 Jan 2019 07.17 EST

Program that enrolled users as young as 13 prompts Apple to ban Facebook from publishing some apps

Facebook paid users as young as 13 to install an app that gave the company access to everything their phone sent or received over the internet. In response, Apple has revoked Facebook’s ability to publish certain apps, in a move that could have far-reaching implications for both companies.

Facebook has been accused of exploiting a loophole in Apple’s privacy regulations to publish the iPhone app, which provided it with data it used to keep ahead of youth trends.

As well as sparking renewed privacy concerns, the discovery revived the cold war between the two businesses, which have previously attacked each other in the press over issues of privacy and security.

Facebook was found to be using a voluntarily installed virtual private network (VPN) to route all data from participants’ devices through its own servers – despite the fact that Apple had removed a previous Facebook app that did the same thing, Onavo, from the iOS App Store over privacy violations.

Facebook now says it will shut down the app, called Facebook Research, on iOS and maintains it did nothing wrong, and that the service was not a replacement for the Onavo VPN.

According to TechCrunch, which first reported the existence of Facebook Research, the company paid users aged 13 to 35 a monthly fee, of up to $20, to install the app on iOS and Android. When they did, all of their internet data, however they connected and whatever apps they were using, was funnelled through the company’s servers, allowing it to keep track of their activities on other services.

Onavo Protect was used by the company for the same purpose but was removed from the iOS App Store in June 2018 when Apple implemented new rules that banned the collection of “information about which other apps are installed on a user’s device for the purposes of analytics or advertising/marketing”.

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Why Trump’s superfans dig Ocasio-Cortez – BEN SCHRECKINGER 01/30/2019 05:02 AM EST

‘I aspire to be the conservative AOC,’ said one GOP congressman.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Coverage of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Fox News has become so frequent that she poked fun at the network in a tweet, quoting Spanish-language lyrics from the New York City band Aventura to suggest Fox has an “obsession” with her. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

They detest what she stands for. They think her policies would destroy the country. And they wish she would just go away.

All the same, many of President Donald Trump’s most media-conscious supporters can’t help but admit it: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has got serious political game.

“I aspire to be the conservative AOC,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told POLITICO. Gaetz, an outspoken 36-year-old in his second term who has achieved a measure of prominence as a highly visible Trump defender, said there’s just one problem with that aspiration: “I can’t dance for shit.”

“AOC has what I call ‘gameness’ or competitive heart — the combination of grit, determination, fighting spirit that you can’t coach,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, told POLITICO. “You either have it or you don’t, and she has it big league.”

Such admiration, in spite of vast ideological and demographic differences, is a testament to just how quickly the 29-year-old former activist and waitress has achieved political stardom. It’s also a sign that many parts of Trump’s playbook — a populist image, an authentic social media presence, a willingness to lash out at mainstream media gatekeepers and fact-checkers, and a lack of deference to party leaders — are becoming enduring features of American politics, rather than some aberration made possible only by Trump’s unique persona or the state of the Republican Party circa 2015.

The president’s most media-savvy supporters recognize Ocasio-Cortez’s approach because it is so similar to Trump’s, a comparison they often make.

“Laughing at Trump, as the libs did, sure stopped him from being POTUS,” the far-right activist Mike Cernovich tweeted in November, adding, “Laughing at AOC, as the cons are doing now, sure is hurting her.”

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AT&T Wants to Be Big in Entertainment. First, It Has a $49 Billion Problem to Fix. – By Drew FitzGerald Jan. 29, 2019 10:56 a.m. ET

A DirecTV technician removes a satellite TV dish at a building in Lynwood, Calif. PATRICK T. FALLON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

When AT&T Inc. T 0.10% took over DirecTV in 2015, a group of executives from the two companies gathered at Fleming’s steakhouse in El Segundo, Calif., to celebrate the deal. Toward the end of the dinner, DirecTV chief Mike White stood up, drew a lightsaber and handed it to an executive of AT&T, saying it might help in future negotiations with channel owners.

Today the telecom company, nicknamed the Death Star by detractors, isn’t scaring so many. Acquiring satellite-TV provider DirecTV, which cost $49 billion, was supposed to catalyze AT&T’s transformation into a media and entertainment giant. Instead, it has become one of the biggest casualties of the rise of Netflix Inc. and other streaming-video services.

DirecTV has lost 1.4 million satellite customers since its peak of 21 million-plus about two years ago. Analysts expect news of roughly 300,000 more defections when AT&T reports quarterly results on Wednesday. AT&T is bracing for cancellations this year that would cut into its 2019 operating profits by $1 billion.

The company has told investors it plans to make up for much of the money lost to defections by charging more to customers with discounts who stay. Meanwhile, some former call-center workers say AT&T has incentivized such employees to make it as difficult as possible for customers to cancel, a claim the company disputes.

AT&T is facing the perils of trying to move beyond its telecom roots into a media industry where the balance of power is dramatically shifting. DirecTV in the span of a few years has evolved from a springboard for its parent company’s show-business ambitions into a drag on its business and public image. The shift has weakened AT&T’s hold on once-reliable channel-surfers as it seeks to capitalize on an even bigger purchase of an entertainment heavyweight, its $81 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc.

See Change

Skinny online channel bundles are growing, but traditional TV service is losing customers at a faster rate. Satellite services Dish and DirecTV have suffered most from the slump.

*As of 4Q 2018, includes estimates †Excludes Netflix, which added about 13 million subscribers

Source: UBS AG