Steve Carell set for Netflix comedy based on Trump’s ‘Space Force’

Steve Carell is back, baby.
Steve Carell is back, baby.

Image: Emma McIntyre / Getty Images

Steve Carell is making his triumphant return to television (sort of).

Carell is set to star in upcoming Netflix comedy series Space Force, which is co-created by Carell and The Office‘s showrunner Greg Daniels, Netflix revealed in a teaser trailer Wednesday.

Space Force is inspired by President Donald Trump in which he expressed interest in creating a new branch of the U.S. military called the Space Force. The show would focus on the people who have to make Trump’s dream come true.

Space Force will undoubtedly be steeped in political satire, given its premise, but just like The Office that came before it, Space Force is described as a workplace comedy. No word yet on whether there will be any budding romances between coworkers, or what exactly Carell’s role will be.

We do know that Carell is going to be making a pretty penny on this show according to a report from The Hollywood Report, which claims the star’s salary is record-setting and likely beating out the salary of the stars of The Big Bang Theory, each of whom were taking in $1 million per episode.

This is Carell’s first big role in a series since he left The Office as a regular in 2011. He has recently starred in Welcome to Marwen, Beautiful Boy, and voiced the character Gru in the Despicable Me movies.

We don’t know when Space Force is coming out, but Netflix did say “coming soon,” so fingers crossed that it actually is soon.

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Is Luka Doncic Having a Better Rookie Season Than LeBron James Did?

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 13: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket against the Golden State Warriors on January 13, 2019 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

Glenn James/Getty Images

Luka Doncic’s arrival as a rookie phenomenon is now complete. Not because of his monstrous play in the clutch, those groin-stretching step-backs or the generally indomitable confidence that defines the Dallas Mavericks’ 19-year-old star.

No, Doncic has arrived because he’s played well enough through half of his first NBA season to invite a special comparison. If there are levels to talent verification, being likened to LeBron James has to be one of the last thresholds to clear. So before we get to answering the question posed up there in the headline, just appreciate the fact that we can ask it with a straight face.

Of course, you probably also want that answer too.

If you start simply with traditional counting stats, you get a quick and easy validation that Doncic stacks up against James:

We’re trafficking in arbitrary cutoffs and tiny samples here, so maybe it’ll help to broaden the scope of our investigation. If Doncic’s averages of 20.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists hold, he’ll do something Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson did…but not James. Those numbers are still a bit cherry-picked, though. James’ rookie averages of 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists put him in a group with Jordan and Robertson that excludes Doncic.

James and Doncic are both in the 20-5-5 rookie club with Jordan, Robertson and…Tyreke Evans. If for some reason this serves as a tiebreaker, James is the youngest player to score at least 40 points in a game, which he did at 19 years and 88 days. Based on these numbers, the best we can say is that James and Doncic performed very similarly as 19-year-old rookies.

That points, rebounds and assists don’t clarify this comparison is no surprise. We’ve reached (or at least should have reached) a point where we know those counting numbers don’t paint a finished picture. We need to know about scoring efficiency, global impact and even some intangibles to sort this out.

Doncic tops James when we consider those elements, starting with scoring efficiency.

Doncic and James Shooting Splits
Doncic 43.5 37.3 73.2
James 41.7 29.0 75.4
Basketball Reference

Sure, Doncic arrived in an NBA vastly changed from the one James joined in 2003-04. Math is king now, and it’s impossible to acknowledge Doncic’s superior shooting numbers without noting that the league as a whole is scoring more efficiently. In James’ rookie year, the leaguewide three-point attempt rate was 18.7 percent, and the average effective field-goal percentage was 47.1 percent. Now, those figures are 35.2 percent and 52.2 percent.

If James had attempted as many threes as Doncic this year (6.6 per game), he would have ranked fifth in the league. But if James had matched Doncic’s difficult shot mix—step-backs, contested looks, particularly deep heaves— it seems like he would have converted at an even lower rate than the 29.0 percent he managed from distance.

It’s not just different eras. It’s not as simple as saying “if James had been a rookie in 2018-19, he would have matched Doncic’s efficiency.” James was significantly below the league average in that regard as a rookie.  Doncic, despite a diet of extremely tough looks, is much closer to the median in that statistic. He’s simply a more skilled shot-maker than James was.

James and Doncic vs. League Averages
James 48.8 43.8 14.5
2003-04 AVG. 51.6 47.1 18.7
Doncic 56.4 51.6 43.3
2018-19 AVG. 55.7 52.2 35.2
Basketball Reference

Another stat combo that sets Doncic apart: He’s in line to finish as the third rookie to ever post a usage rate of 28.1 percent and a true shooting percentage (which is different from effective field-goal percentage because it includes free throws) of 56.4 percent.

James isn’t in that club. And yes, six-time All-Star Walter Davis was very good in the late ’70s and early ’80s. We’re getting distracted, though.

LeBron’s absence from some of these all-time rookie leaderboards brings us to another consideration: James, though an undeniable megastar now, wasn’t overwhelmingly great as a rookie. In his own class, Carmelo Anthony edged out James’ 20.9 scoring average with his own 21.0 figure, and he did it with a slightly higher usage rate and true shooting percentage. Dwyane Wade was also a more efficient scorer than James. So were David West and Chris Bosh.

James led his rookie class in box plus-minus, but he only ranks seventh among rookies in that stat since 2003-04 (among first-year players who got 25 minutes per game and had a usage rate over 20 percent). Doncic is third in that group, behind Chris Paul in 2005-06 and Ben Simmons last year.

Paul, for what it’s worth, dominates in rookie box-plus minus at plus-6.1. Simmons only reached plus-4.6, and Doncic is at plus-3.2 so far. James only managed a plus-1.9.

Let’s also remember Blake Griffin, who posted a plus-3.2 BPM in 2010-11 that matches Doncic’s figure this season. Griffin averaged 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists as a rookie while taking the league by storm with his 214 dunks. If we’re going to use less quantifiable factors to split hairs, Griffin single-handedly making the laughingstock Clippers interesting and unmissable has to be worth something. Note, too, that Griffin—not James, not Anthony, not anybody since Yao leveraged votes from China in 2003—made the All-Star team as a rookie.

Lest we forget:

Doncic might very well join Griffin in that All-Star honor this February, and the way he’s captivated the league with highlight plays and a self-assured air that often wades into flat-out cockiness feels a lot like what Griffin did almost a decade ago.

In terms of overall production, CP3 and Simmons have stronger rookie resumes than Doncic and James. But if we consider the narratives and hype attached to those two, there’s a fascinating contrast to explore.

James’ high school games were nationally televised. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated before he ever played an NBA game. He was the Chosen 1 before the Cavs chose him first overall. Doncic arrived this year with little more than a whisper campaign to his name. He was like a secret only a few informed observers knew about, a grainy video clip from halfway across the world.

He was a teenager destroying professional adults, winning MVPs and championships in a league better than the NCAA James bypassed. It’s bizarre to frame it this way, with James anointed for dominating acne-ridden, curfew-having teenagers while Doncic slipped to third in the draft after crushing a league of grown men paid to play basketball.

James’ hype preceded his NBA debut. Doncic created his after the fact.

I’m not sure how much that matters, because we’ve got to credit James for performing under such crushing pressure. At the same time, there’s something to be said for Doncic forcing doubters to convert.

Statistically, Doncic has been better as a rookie than James was, and their origin stories, so to speak, are as fascinating as they are distinct. But if there’s a claim to the title of “Best Rookie Since LeBron,” it probably belongs to Paul or Simmons. Or even Griffin. Doncic could do enough in the second half to surpass those guys. He’s that good.

       

Stats courtesy of NBA.com, Cleaning the Glass and Basketball Reference unless otherwise noted. Accurate through games played Tuesday, Jan. 15.

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Xiaomi Redmi Note 7: A 48-megapixel camera for $150

Xiaomi’s new sub-brand, Redmi, has launched its first phone: The Redmi Note 7

As expected, Xiaomi has once again pushed the boundaries of just how much phone you can get for your money. The Redmi Note 7 has a 48-megapixel rear camera, all-around decent specs, and starts at just 999 CNY or $147. 

The Redmi Note 7 has a 6.3-inch LCD screen with a tiny, “water drop” notch. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and starts with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It’s got a 48-megapixel rear camera, coupled with a 5-megapixel depth sensor, as well as a 13-megapixel selfie camera. 

Also on-board: a 4,000mAh battery, fast charging (the fast charger is an extra option that costs only 10 CNY ($1.5)), an IR blaster, a fingerprint scanner on the back, a USB-C connector and (mercifully) a headphone jack. 

The phone is launching in China first, starting at 999 CNY ($147) for the 3GB/32GB model. The variant with 4GB/64GB costs 1,199 CNY ($177), while the 6GB/64GB costs 1,399 CNY ($206). Depending on the variant you choose, the phone is available in four colors: Blue, red, black and a purplish “twilight” gradient. 

The Redmi Note 7 is not the first phone with a 48-megapixel camera; Huawei Nova 4 and Honor View 20 beat it to the punch. But those phones are far more expensive, with starting price tags of $493 and $436, respectively. With a mid-range processor and lack of some fancy options such as the in-display fingerprint sensor, the Redmi Note 7 makes some compromises in terms of specs, but its price — for either variant — still sounds like an absolute steal. 

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New $1 birth control patch works in seconds, lasts for a month, researchers claim

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A research team from Georgia Tech tested the contraceptive patch on rats, and it delivered hormone-based birth control evenly with one application.
USA TODAY

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a low-cost contraceptive patch for women using microneedles allowing the user to wear it for seconds and get a dose that lasts for a month.

When the patch is applied for several seconds, microscopic needles break off on the surface of the skin and administer the contraceptive drug levonorgestrel over a period of time, said a study published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

Researchers said they expect the patches, which are at least a few years away from being available to consumers, could be mass produced for $1 each.

“Our goal is for women to be able to self-administer long-acting contraceptives with the microneedle patch that would be applied to the skin for five seconds just once a month,” said study author Mark Prausnitz, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, in a statement.

Unlike some contraceptive patches on the market that require the user to continuously wear them, the patch’s backing can be discarded once the microscopic needles break off into the skin, say researchers.

In early testing of the patches on rats, the study found the patch — which contained 100 microneedles —was able to deliver a therapeutic amount of the drug for more than a month with one application.

In an interview with USA TODAY, Prausnitz said the goal of initial tests was to determine whether the patch could deliver levonorgestrel at the right levels in the rats’ bloodstream.  

Prausnitz said it could take about five years before this patch is available to the public. Researchers say more testing is required to make sure the patches will effectively work on humans. They also said they’re hoping to create a patch that could be applied every six months. 

“It’s difficult for a woman in some scenarios to go to a health care professional and have a long-acting contraceptive administered,” said Prausnitz. “If you could have this combination of a long-acting plus something that can be self-administered, that should be really attractive in many cases.” 

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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Pokémon Go maker Niantic valued at $4 billion after $245 million round

The company is preparing to release a Harry Potter-themed AR game in 2019.
The company is preparing to release a Harry Potter-themed AR game in 2019.

Image: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Niantic Labs, the maker of augmented reality (AR) megahit Pokémon Go, has raised $245 million in a new funding round. 

The Series C round, led by IVP with additional investors including Samsung Ventures and aXiomatic, brings Niantic’s valuation to nearly $4 billion, the company said in a press release Wednesday. 

The company will use the funds to invest in further development of AR tech, machine learning, its Niantic Real World Platform. Niantic will also continue to invest in its gaming titles, which — besides Pokémon Go — include the AR game Ingress Prime and the upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, which is being co-developed and co-published with WB Games. 

“IVP is excited to support Niantic in building the future of AR — initially as it delivers the magic of AR through highly popular games, but ultimately by delivering an operating system for applications that unite the digital world with the physical world,” IVP’s Sandy Miller said in a statement.

Niantic started as a Google-incubated project and spun out in 2015, raising $35 million from Google, Nintendo and others. The company raised and additional $200 million in VC funding in 2017. 

The upcoming Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game will once again let users interact with the real world via an AR experience on their phones. The game is scheduled to launch on iOS and Android in 2019. 

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