Numlock News: April 24, 2019 • Avengers, Glaciers, Good Germs
By Walt Hickey
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AOBiome Therapeutics wants to be the first to score FDA approval to sell pharmaceutical-grade topical live bacteria to treat skin problems like acne, eczema, rosacea and hay fever. It’s a bold pitch: make an uneasy peace with humanity’s ancient foe, bacteria, to confront humanity’s true enemy, looking less pretty than we would otherwise prefer. I can get behind such a truce, and apparently so can investors: equity funding for companies working in microbiomes was $173 million in 2015 and jumped to $728 million a year later, hitting $939 million last year. It’s predicated on the idea that perhaps a hermetically sealed clean room is not mankind’s ideal habitat.
Now that Amazon’s got 100 million people hooked on the free two-day shipping that comes with membership to Prime, they’re quite keen on weaning them off the deliriously expensive 48-hour delivery promise. They’ve started small, literally: there are items under $25 Amazon straight up won’t ship alone in two days. Given that 46 percent of members shop online over twice a week, their effort to consolidate deliveries to a single day of the week is also linked to that. Because the reality is that Amazon spent $21.7 billion on shipping costs in 2017, and that was double the spend in 2015.
I was gracious enough to never cause this delusion for my family, but apparently 40 percent of parents with kids in youth sports are confident that one day their child will get an athletic scholarship as a result of their skills on the field. Families who have kids on elite sports teams spent $3,167 per player in 2018, which was up from $1,976 in 2013, which was still way too high if you ask me. If it’s an attempt at being an investment, think again, as only 2 percent of high school athletes get any amount of a college scholarship. Baseball parents spent $4,041 per child per year and volleyball parents spent $8,027 per kid in 2016, which I’ll tell you is way more than the combined sticker price of musical theater, debate, and naively navigating a then-confusing and ineffable attraction to a tenor.
Dairy goat herds expanded more than any other major livestock between 2007 and 2017, growing 61 percent. Only ducks as livestock also pulled off double-digit growth. Dairy goat herds grew in every one of the lower 48 states, with Wisconsin alone adding 47,203 goats over the ten-year period. Those cows are getting lazy, too: the dairy herd grew only 3 percent, and goat milk is in vogue both among those allergic to cow milk and cheese fans who can’t get enough of the stuff.
If We Can’t Save The Box Office We’ll Certainly Avenge It
This weekend is flirting with being one of the biggest of all time at the domestic box office with Avengers: Endgame getting unleashed upon the box office after years of buildup. The question on box office geek minds is how much money this sucker will make given that it certainly seems like it’s going to push the plausible upper bound on how much money can be made at the American cinema in a single go-round. Theaters are booked around the clock, and yet projections generally have Avengers: Endgame pulling in revenue shy of the nice, big round number of $300 million domestically. Right now it’s projected to make between $250 million and $268 million. $300 million for a single film is basically the 2-hour marathon of the box office: the most money ever generated in a single weekend was $314 million when Avengers: Infinity War launched to a $257.7 million opening, and the second most was $313 million when Star Wars: The Force Awakens made $247 million in 2015. So basically, if Tony Stark can’t do it this weekend, the only one who can push a movie past the $300 million opening is basically the chairman of the Fed with a foot on the inflation pedal.
The Bay Area is in a full on housing apocalypse, as a number of major IPOs are coming that will leave people who want to own in San Francisco flush with cash. Already, a study estimated that 51 percent of buyers in San Francisco in 2018 worked in software, just one reason the median home price in SF was around $1.3 million in 2019. Despite 400,000 housing units, only 5,471 properties changed hands last year, which is wild. The amount of cash that will rain down on employees as they cash out their options in an IPO is projected to do obscene things to the market, a decent fraction of $250 billion going to employees and an estimated 5,000 buyers entering the market, 3,885 of whom will be looking for homes under $3 million. Reminder, less than 6,000 homes sell per year.
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has plumbed further into Greenland’s past than previous research, and the report indicates that the island has lost 4,976 billion metric tons of water since 1972. More concerning, Greenland lost about 2,200 billion tons of that in the years between 2010 and 2018, indicating that the melt is accelerating. The data goes further back than ever before — few studies go before 2002, and 1992 is actually a fairly considerable data drop off — but the United States Geological Survey Landsat satellites have taken photos of every piece of land every 16 days nonstop since 1972. The Greenland Ice Sheet could fill the Great Lakes 115 times, and it’s falling apart.
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