Numlock News: April 7, 2023 • Ramen, Parking Tickets, K-Pop
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Bad Drivers Owe Us Money
A new analysis out of the New York City Independent Budget Office found that the amount of unpaid parking tickets and camera violations from 2017 to 2022 amounts to $1 billion including late fees and interest, a blown off amount of money that is roughly double the budget of the Parks Department budget. The city’s owed another $940 million in quality of life fines doled out by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, as well as another $150 million in unpaid construction fines and property taxes. Last summer The Guardian put unpaid parking tickets at $534 million.
The rights of the works of the Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges are now in a questionable state of ownership after his widow, Maria Kodama, died last month without a will. Borges died in 1986 and left his wife as sole heir to his literary legacy as the most internationally significant author of his country, and they never had children. As a result, the rights to his work and a number of manuscripts that are believed to exist and be valuable are now in question. Five nephews went to court on Tuesday to declare themselves heirs, even though Kodama was reportedly not close with her family.
The James Webb Space Telescope took a few minutes aside from its busy schedule plumbing the depths of time and space to take a peek at a closer neighbor, the planet Uranus, and has snapped some remarkable photographs that manage to capture 11 of its 13 known rings, a remarkable image. Uranus’ rings have only been photographed by two other instruments, the Voyager 2 spacecraft — which discovered two of the rings during its flyby in 1986 — and the Keck Observatory.
Academy Award-Winning Performance From Jamie Lee Curtis
The IRS audited only 0.4 percent of taxpayers making over $500,000 a year as of 2019, pronouncedly down from the 4.5 percent of those taxpayers audited in 2011. The latest plan from the agency is to use their $80 billion in new funding to beef up its investigations into high-income earners while boosting customer service resources for middle- and lower-income tax filers. The audit rate on those making less than $400,000 per year will not change. The agency is also going to buy up digital scanning technology, as about 10 percent of filers still submit a hard copy return and those take additional processing time and can lead to backlogs.
Nissin, which makes Cup Noodles and Top Ramen brand instant noodles, just reported a 41 percent year-over-year increase in sales during the last quarter of last year, continuing its rapid growth. Ramen sales spiked at the onset of the pandemic, as tasty shelf-stable foods had some desirable qualities during shutdowns, and evidently people still kept at it, which has led to bonkers sales for the noodle titan. The company has a 40 percent market share in instant ramen in the U.S. and that marketshare was growing at a 32 percent year-over-year rate.
Boston’s city council is weighing banning the city’s liquor stores from selling small bottles of liquor, the kind that have between 50 to 100 milliliters of booze in them. In addition to arguments that they facilitate alcohol addiction and youth consumption, a major argument against them is that they’re responsible for a disproportionate amount of litter in the state. Cape Cod banned them in 2021, and found that small liquor bottles went from 32 percent of the items picked up in roadside community trash collection all the way down to just 6 percent of litter. Also threatened by the litter is the state bird of Massachusetts, a discarded Dunkin’ coffee cup that primarily nests on the shoulders of I-90.
Korean pop music or K-pop has taken over the world, and one group of people with mixed feelings about that fact is Korean pop music fans, who are seeing a genre they love change amid global demand and international dollars steering the genre. Many K-pop hits are geared toward an American audience, such as the Jimin single “Like Crazy” that charted higher in the U.S. than it did in South Korea. It also means that increasingly K-pop songs are not even recorded in Korean. The recent bout of M&A — internet titan Kakao buying up a chunk of SM Entertainment to get skin in the game in K-pop — has also sparked worries that the focus of pop music producers is now firmly abroad. Today, something like 90 percent of K-pop listeners live outside South Korea.
This week in the Sunday edition, I spoke to Kevin Tran, who wrote Gen Z and Millennials Haven’t Completely Abandoned Linear TV — Yet for Morning Consult. Kevin writes about two of my favorite things, great polling data and entertainment news, so his stuff is usually a direct pitch down the middle for me. We spoke about the real state of linear television, how the fundamental concept of a television channel has changed while many didn’t notice, and why he thinks the “theatrical vs. streaming” debate has already peaked. Kevin can be found at MorningConsult.com and on Twitter at @KTran223.
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