Numlock News: January 24, 2019
By Walt Hickey
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The Michael J. Fox Foundation operates considerably differently than a typical philanthropy. There’s no endowment — all the money is out the door and funding research immediately — and its goal isn’t long-term support for people with Parkinson’s, it’s a cure as soon as possible. Once bereft of research, in many ways thanks to the $800 million that flowed through the foundation and into research over the past 18 years, there have been serious advances. A new drug, Inbrija, is a major win for that unorthodox philanthropic strategy. Inbrija offers quick relief to Parkinson’s symptoms through an inhaler, similar to inhaler treatments for asthma sufferers. It’s not a cure, but still a win. The Fox Foundation seeded the company behind the drug with $1.3 million from 2011 to 2013, and by 2014 the company was bought by a larger biotech firm for $525 million and now there’s a drug about to hit the market.
Awful Naming Decisions
The Milwaukee Brewers will no longer play in the aptly named Miller Park. MillerCoors committed $41.2 million for the rights in 1996 and has had the naming rights for the Brewer’s ballpark since the opening in 2001. Instead of having a park for a team named after beer makers named after a beer company that was just down the road, it’ll be named by American Family Insurance for 15 years starting in 2021. This makes sense, as something that at least used to be kind of fun being replaced by an extremely boring financial force is a fairly apt metaphor for the current state of professional baseball.
In the latest sign that esports are going too far, the developer behind Farming Simulator has announced a 10-tournament competitive tournament that will culminate at FarmCon 2020, with €250,000 (around $280,000) in prize money up for grabs. In case you were curious, Farming Simulator is exactly what it sounds like. The game of choice — Farming Simulator 19 — will get a competitive three versus three mode where players determine who is the best at pretending to farm. Esports purists should relax, this just means that the medium is maturing: if ESPN3 can reair sports like curling, climbing and the X Games with a straight face this coming Sunday, there’s room for a €250,000 digital farming competition.
YouTube TV is the $40 per month over-the-top internet television service sold by Google. It launched in five cities in 2016 and has been open in the top 100 markets for about a year. That’s about 85 percent of households. Starting yesterday, the service became available in a further 95 markets, bringing it to 98 percent of U.S. households. There are only 15 remaining designated market areas out of 210 without the service. The holdup has come from the necessity to cut individual deals with each broadcaster to get distribution rights.
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Florida, Texas and California produce the largest numbers of college and professional football players. While Florida and Texas have seen decreasing participation in high school football, California is ground zero for the decline of football in the U.S. During the 2009-10 season, California had 104,224 high school players at 1,029 schools. In the 2017-18 season, that fell to 94,286 players at 877 schools. The number of players in the Golden State has fallen about 3 percent every year. Meanwhile, participation in youth sports in California is at an all-time high, with boy’s soccer participation growing 19 percent over the past 10 years. It’s a major part of a national trend, with the average high school football team losing three players since 2016. It’s going to be weird when the most glamorous and enviable position on the high school football team is kicker.
You Break It You Buy It
American concern about climate change is rising quickly: according to the latest edition of a poll from Yale and George Mason University, 29 percent say they’re very worried about climate change, an 8 percentage point increase since March 2018. Outright majorities think climate change will endanger the lives of their loved ones, with 56 percent saying it will harm their family. But the resources necessary to push back on the current rate of warming are still difficult to find: 70 percent would vote against a $10 monthly fee on their power bill, and 40 percent oppose a $1 monthly increase. It’s excellent to know that there’s a vast swathe of the country that couldn’t be bothered to part with an annual twelve dollars to possibly ensure the continuity of survivable conditions on this rock for their successors, but it’s certainly a fact those successors will remember after they’re dead.
Last year a massive scandal overtook the Chinese film industry when it was leaked that widespread tax evasion was pervasive among contracts between production companies and stars. The revelation that the business operated on two sets of books — one for tax authorities, one for the actual business — resulted in an astronomical sum of $1.7 billion in back taxes being paid by stars and studios in the wake of the scandal, China’s state media reported Tuesday. That’s one-fifth of China’s total box office last year. The bills have seriously eaten into Chinese studio cash reserves, which many are dialing back to a more conservative production strategy as a result.
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