Numlock News: April 8, 2022 • Manga, Antarctica, Fear
By Walt Hickey
The Zimbabwe telecom business is dominated by two companies, Econet and NetOne, which have a combined 94.5 percent share of the market. Econet charges 2,000 Zimbabwean dollars ($15 USD) for 1.4 GB of data, which is double the benchmark for affordable internet of 2 percent of average monthly income. Meanwhile, NetOne sent shockwaves through the digital economy in February by raising prices over 600 percent, a decision that prompted massive public outcry and was rolled back in short order. Still, there is a workaround: There’s a black market trade in SIM cards from neighboring Mozambique, which can get 2 GB of data for the equivalent of $3. That’s even making border towns like Chimanimani into remote work hubs.
Cable networks have been dealing with the cord-cutting phenomenon for years, but one analysis of the real offerings of cable shows that the overall offerings of media conglomerate cable networks has gotten vastly worse in the past several years, despite the networks charging the same or more. For instance, Discovery offered 413 original programs in 2016 on its cable networks, but only 243 in 2021. Disney had 60 originals in 2016 and 52 in 2022, NBCUniversal’s 122 fell to 83, WarnerMedia’s 94 offerings fell to 80, and Paramount’s 139 originals on cable dropped to 83. Meanwhile, their originals on streaming are jumping: Discovery went from 0 originals on streaming in 2016 to 145 last year, Disney jumped from 13 to 70, NBCUniversal from 20 to 42, and WarnerMedia from 0 to 55.
Spending on manga and graphic novels has exploded to previously unimaginable levels. More comics were sold in 2021 than were sold in 2018 and 2019 combined, and comparing the number of book store sales of comics, manga and graphic novels sold in 2003 to those sold in 2021, the volume has increased 558 percent. Indeed, fewer than a hundred people are responsible for most sales — 95 people account for 64 percent of sales — but even that means the talent pool is broadening, as in 2020 only 51 people were responsible for 61 percent of sales. Sales are up in manga 280 percent compared to 2020.
Wanted: Penguin Assessor
The U.K. Antarctic Heritage Trust is recruiting people to spend 5 months, from November to March, at the Port Lockroy base. The facility — which serves as a post office and penguin counting facility — closed at the start of the pandemic, and this crew will be the ones to re-open the base. The site was the first permanent British base in the Antarctic Peninsula in 1944, and since 2006 it’s been a post office and a museum with a gift shop, which will entertain some 18,000 guests and at minimum one extraterrestrial shapeshifter in the Antarctic summer. The trust usually gets hundreds of applications for the posting.
The single people of this country are having a bad time, with 63 percent of people who are single and looking for a relationship saying that dating is harder today than it was before the pandemic, 32 percent assessing that it’s about the same difficulty as pre-pandemic, and a legitimately concerning 3 percent of respondents who consider the dating scene to be easier today — during the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 pandemic — than it was prior, which like, man where were 3 percent of you two years ago? Exiled in Siberia? Running a post office in Antarctica? Hoboken?
A new study found that there are multi-generational impacts on prey animals when they undergo stress from predators. Researchers gathered sparrows and subjected some of them to a mix tape of sounds from animals that eat sparrows, including hawks, crows, raccoons and owls. They subjected some of the sparrows to four days on, four days off of the soundtrack of terror for four months, and then tracked the outcomes of the nest over the next two years. The sparrows who had the fear soundtrack on had a 53 percent drop in reproductive success, with fewer eggs and fewer chicks making it to adulthood, and those surviving chicks lived shorter lives, sang fewer songs and had fewer offspring.
Several weeks ago the Federal Trade Commission sued Intuit, the company that makes TurboTax, over what it describes as deceptively marketing TurboTax as free for most people when it is definitely not free for most people. The IRS Free File program means that tax prep corporations have to give Americans making less than $73,000 a year with a few other conditions the ability to file for free, but those terms and conditions get a little lost in the “FREE FILING” ads some tax prep companies seem to like. In 2020, only 4 percent of eligible taxpayers managed to actually file for free, and the Treasury Department said 14 million people who could have filed for free actually paid about $1 billion to tax prep companies they needn’t have.
Last week in the Sunday edition I spoke to Alex Silverman who wrote Formula 1 Fandom in the United States Is Up 33% Since 2020, Thanks in Part to Netflix Series for Morning Consult. I loved this story because I have not been able to evade F1 conversations and Alex is so damn good at talking about the big picture of sports. Alex can be found at Morning Consult, where he covers sports, and on Twitter.
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