Numlock News: April 25, 2023 • Slam Dunk, Nostalgia, Pseudonyms
By Walt Hickey
The First Slam Dunk is an anime film from Toei Animation adapting a classic manga that’s now the second film from Japan to make a killing in China recently, an increasingly tough market for overseas films. The movie racked up a $56 million opening weekend to wide acclaim, and is now projected to make over $100 million in China by the end of the run. This follows the success of Suzume, another animated Japanese film that’s the followup to the acclaimed Weathering With You and Your Name films from director Makoto Shinkai and which itself made $110 million in China since release in March. Compare those great numbers to Hollywood exports, like the mere $20 million that the otherwise global smash hit Super Mario Bros. made in China, or the mere $39 million Ant-Man 3 made there.
Online chess service Chess.com has been the best positioned to capitalize on the burgeoning chess craze, seeing the number of daily active users rise from 5.4 million in early November all the way to north of 11 million daily active users today. That’s also very high in general, with Chess.com having 1.5 million daily active users as of February 2020. Some of that has been fueled by the pandemic, some fueled by canny business dealings, like buying the Play Magnus Group in December, but the most compelling growth is happening among teenagers, as over 549,000 players aged 13 to 17 visited the site in January and February, more than double the number in November and December. One reason is also that the site specifically hosts tournaments with novices who were pro gamers and Twitch streamers with large fanbases.
The report from the American Library Association into attempts to bans books in 2022 found that 2,571 unique titles were banned or challenged last year. The number of unique titles that were challenged last year was up 40 percent over 2021, thanks in large part to a widespread campaign carried out by ignorant cranks who detest the presence of gay people in literature. Among the most-challenged 13 books, seven have LGBTQIA+ content motivating the Helen Lovejoy crowd into action.
The word nostalgia is derived from the Greek algos, which means pain, and the Greek word nostos, which means returning home, and a new survey has found that America is fundamentally poisoned by it through and through. Asked by Pew Research Center to think about the world in 2050, 66 percent think the economy will be weaker and 32 percent think stronger, while 77 percent think the country will be more politically divided and just 21 percent think less. On a political background, attitudes among Republicans are low but relatively stable broken down by age — 56 percent say they have at least some confidence in the future of the country, and that percentage doesn’t shift by more than five points in either direction when comparing younger Republicans with older Republicans — while Democrats are all over the map. While on balance Dems are more optimistic — 66 percent have confidence in the future of the U.S. — just 53 percent of Democrats aged 18 to 34 said as much, while 82 percent of Democrats over 65 do.
Participation in youth sports is down, with just 37 percent of kids aged 6 to 12 playing a sport in 2021, down from 45 percent in 2008. Lots of things are fueling that, but the decline of cheap, accessible recreational sports programs for casual athletes looking to learn a new team sport and the rise of pay-to-play travel leagues that amass vast amounts of talent and push specialization on young players is a big part of it. Team sports percentage is now heavily correlated with income in the United States, with 24 percent of kids from families making $25,000 playing compared to 40 percent among families with incomes over $100,000.
Columbia University in New York City is a massive real estate investment trust that occasionally operates an educational wing, a new analysis of building data found. Previous analyses of the land holdings of Columbia put the estimate at 216 buildings owned in New York City with 13.9 million square feet of real estate, but a student investigation found that the real estate portfolio goes well beyond then entities that explicitly indicate their ownership as Columbia. The new analysis found that there are just 263 properties that explicitly list the university as owner in City records, while in reality through 184 different pseudonyms — including The Morningside Heights Housing Corporation, 265 River Owners Corp, and much more — Columbia actually holds 383 distinct addresses. By number of addresses, they’re the largest private landowner in New York City.
Thanks to a massive, sprawling advertising campaign that includes something like 15,000 YouTube influencers, Nord VPN has been locked in a fight with rival ExpressVPN for market share in the highly profitable market for VPNs, which obscure and encrypt internet traffic for privacy-conscious users. NordVPN claims 5,500 servers in 60 countries, and the pair of companies are trying to make a big mainstream business out of what was once a niche market for techies. The money is really good at scale: VPN subscription can turn an 80 percent profit for Nord.
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