Numlock News: August 14, 2023 • Ken, Junks, Printers
By Walt Hickey
HP, which sold $18.9 billion worth of printers and supplies last year, is the defendant in a proposed class-action suit that claims that its all-in-one printers are deliberately designed to be unable to scan or fax when the printer is low on ink. This is alleged to be an aggravating sales tactic designed to coerce users into buying up more ink, just to use the non-ink-related functions of the devices. HP sought to have the suit thrown out, an attempt which failed. It turns the stomach to know that, given the enormous volumes of paper filings that a typical class-action suit necessitates, there’s actually a pretty decent chance here that HP ends up in the black on this one no matter what.
Americans are shelling out loads of money on reusable water bottles, with premium offerings flooding the canteen market. In 2020, Americans were spending $1.5 billion on reusable water bottles, a figure that in 2022 stood at over $2 billion. It’s not just the reusable ones, either: Single-serving water bottle sales hit 11.3 billion gallons in 2022, society coming around to the idea that existence is more bearable and downright pleasant when not dehydrated all the time.
Barbie continues to be a phenomenon at the box office, and now people are interested in seeing how that might impact sales of the doll itself. Mattel is staying tight-lipped on sales for the time being, but according to the market research firm Circana, Barbie sales were up 40 percent in the last two weeks of July compared to the same period a year ago. One question is, given Ryan Gosling’s star turn as Ken, whether Barbie’s companion will see a sales bump and maybe even rise a few points in Barbieland marketshare. As it stands, Barbie outsells Ken between 8 to 1 and 10 to 1, but the Mojo Dojo Casa Moment may be kenough to give the boyfriend a sales bump.
The Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, is a massive trade agreement being negotiated between Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam, and it’s a massive deal that links up a number of key economies in the region amid more intense competition with China. Negotiations have hit a snag, though, between the United States and Japan, with the latter country insisting upon the removal of anti-whaling language in the agreement, with the U.S. reportedly acquiescing. Only three countries allow whaling, and with Iceland’s planned cessation in 2024 only Japan and Norway will hunt whales. It’s a lightning rod issue for Japan, even as whale meat no longer appears in most diets; while whale meat was once up to half the protein consumed on average in Japan following WWII, today the average Japanese person eats only 40 grams per year.
Santa Barbara has destroyed a cache of 2,000 bottles of wine and other alcohol that were being stored a mile off the coastline without any permits by a company called Ocean Fathoms, which sells wine that has been aged underwater to wealthy idiots for $500 a bottle. According to the District Attorney, this is not merely a crime of taste but one of actual crime, as they allege that it’s against the law to sell wine without an ABC sales permit, that the FDA considers this wine not fit for human consumption after being submerged, that the company didn’t actually bother to pay sales taxes on their dumb little venture, and finally that abandoning large caches of wine off the coastline so it can develop a reef ecosystem is a violation of the Water Code.
The Ha Long Bay in Vietnam was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1994, and since then has become a popular tourist destination where people sail on the iconic and culturally significant junk boats. In 2019, 18 million people visited Vietnam, and the country is recovering well from early pandemic tourism collapse and poised to hit 8 million tourists this year. Following a series of fatal accidents related to the junk boats, though, in 2016 the Quang Ninh Provincial Transport Department announced that in five years, passenger junks would be phased out, a decision that got a two-year grace period owing to the pandemic but which means that by the end of this year, the junk boat tourism is over.
A new poll found that of workers who have paid time off in the U.S., just 48 percent said that they took all the time off that was offered, while 46 percent took less time off than was actually offered. The reasons were varied; 49 percent of those who took less time off than what was offered were worried they might fall behind at work, 43 percent felt that it would mean colleagues had to take on additional work, and 52 percent said simply they didn’t feel like they needed to take more time. Salaried workers were more likely than hourly workers to take less paid time off, and 54 percent of managers said they took less time off than available compared to 42 percent of nonmanagers.
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