Why Nate Silver should stick to politics and sports

Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum, on why Nate Silver should stick to his strong points of politics (which is almost purely data driven) and sports (which he has a lot of expertise in):

But weather, economics, and education? I’m skeptical that you can just parachute into those fields and add a lot of value. They’re far more complex, are already heavily populated with sophisticated statistical modeling, and generally require some serious subject matter expertise in addition to raw number-crunching skill.

It’s possible that I’m just overreacting to a brief throwaway mention in the Politico piece. If all Silver is trying to do is improve on mainstream news reporting of number-heavy topics, that shouldn’t be too hard. Still, I’d hate to see the basic 538 model get naively overextended into anything that has lots of numbers attached to it. It’s one thing when bloggers (like me) throw up simple wonk-lite analyses of complex topics. After all, no one really takes us seriously as experts. But the 538 brand is all about expertise. It’s inherent in everything that appears there. I hope Silver is careful about what he takes on as he extends his brand.

Politico hits 1,000 subscribers for ridiculously expensive Pro service

Politico hits 1,000 Pro subscriptions and plans to launch a magazine — paidContent:

Politico launched Politico Pro in February 2011; while it was originally aimed at individual subscribers, Pro quickly switched its focus to the group subscriptions that now make up the vast majority of its base. Pro offers some subscriber-only articles, early access to morning newsletters, customizable instant alerts and other perks. Pro started out covering energy, health care and technology and added more coverage areas — defense, financial services, tax and transportation — last year. Starting this month, Pro subscribers can also receive an afternoon policy newsletter called Pro Report.

In an attempt to drive more Pro subscriptions, Politico is launching a free quarterly print magazine that will feature past Pro coverage. On March 22, it will be delivered to “every member of Congress, the White House and all federal agencies as well as to 160 newspaper boxes and 100 Washington-area Starbucks.”

Politico is tight-lipped on what a subscription to Pro actually costs. Subscription fees vary based on the type of organization (government, nonprofit and so on) and how many employees it has, as well as the number of coverage areas an organization wants. Nieman Journalism Lab reported last year that an individual subscription starts at $3,295 a year, with group memberships starting at $8,000 for five people and one coverage area.

I cannot believe that people are willing to spend that much for the features they mention. That makes a digital subscription to The New York Times look like pocket change.

‘Community’ worse off without Dan Harmon

‘Community’ Returns on NBC, Without Dan Harmon, Its Creator – NYTimes.com:

One of the many reasons to watch the first three seasons of “Community,” the fiercely quirky and unapologetically smart NBC sitcom, was that you actually had to watch it. Every offhand remark, every reaction shot, every bit of physical business communicated something (usually something funny). More than any other show in prime time it demanded that you pay attention. 

The sad simulacrum of “Community” that checks in Thursday for Season 4 makes no such claim on your concentration. Send a few e-mails, look at the television, order a pizza, look back at the TV. You won’t miss anything important, because there’s nothing important to miss.

Dan Harmon’s ‘Community was smart, hilarious, and referenced everything I like. The first episode of the new ‘Community’ was amusing at best.