Numlock News: August 6, 2019 • Scotland, Commercials, Unions
By Walt Hickey
In the 2015-16 election cycle, unions spent $213 million on federal elections, which sounds like a lot until you hear that businesses spent $3.4 billion. Annually unions spent $48 million per year lobbying, which nevertheless is a tiny fraction of the $3 billion spent by corporate America. Overall, just one in 16 private sector workers in the U.S. is in a union, and it tends to show when stacking worker rights up against peers: France’s minimum wage is 62 percent of its median wage, Britain’s is 54 percent, but in the U.S. it’s merely 34 percent.
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Commercial time rose 1 percent last quarter, as the volume of ads rose on every major cable network broadcaster with the exception of Fox, which cut ads by 2 percent. Viacom broadcast 14.3 minutes of commercials per hour, followed by A+E with 14 minutes, AMC Networks with 13 minutes, and then Turner with 12.5 minutes. Disney and Fox were near the bottom of the pile, with 10.5 and 10.4 minutes of commercials per hour respectively. This is part of a standoff between advertisers and networks, with the former unwilling to budge on price and the latter seeking a way of making a little more money. Still, the fact that rivals like Netflix manage to air content ad-free poses a serious argument against overdoing it with the 30 second spots.
Based on a vote, the Vienna subway has decided to stop piping in pleasant smells. The transit authority decided to experiment with four scents to be pumped into their cars: green tea, grapefruit, sandalwood and melon, on four trains of two of the network’s five lines. The commuter rail service announced that 21,000 respondents preferred no scent while 16,000 wanted to extend the project, and, frankly, I simply didn’t realize that was an option. I would now like to formally register my opposition to New York City’s MTA continuing their experiment of pumping the following scents into rail cars: mechanically separated chicken, rat corpse, Axe Body Spray, Gritty juice, Eucalyptus, fool’s Eucalyptus, Brooks Brother pit stain, Yankee Candle’s Midsummer Night, mace, diet mace, distilled swamp, ex-Hot Dog, coffee breath, unleaded gasoline, and spilled orange juice.
China has beat out the U.S. as the largest export market for European film, with the Middle Kingdom accounting for 37 percent of admissions to European film outside the continent compared to 28 percent for North America. The number of tickets to European cinema sold in China jumped from 21.2 million in 2016 to 35.8 million in 2017, while the North American ticket buy dropped from 29.8 million to 27.1 million over the same two year period. As a caveat, 2017 was the release of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a French-Chinese co-production that bombed stateside and made a whole bunch of money in China.
In San Francisco County, Uber and Lyft are responsible for 13.4 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. In Boston, the pair of rideshare companies is to blame for 8 percent and in Washington D.C. they’re accountable for 7.2 percent of all miles driven, according to a new report released jointly by the car companies. That’s above expectations in many of those cities, as San Francisco County Transportation Authority data estimated the companies were only generating 6.5 percent of traffic on weekdays and 10 percent on weekends. Moreover, only 54 percent to 62 percent of those miles traveled actually entailed a passenger rather than just an empty backseat, with a full third of the mileage amounting to traveling from passenger to passenger.
A new poll of Scots finds a continued interest in a resolution that would remove Scotland from the United Kingdom. You may recall that Britain recently decided to hurl itself from Europe, a decision that made many people very confused, not the least of who are Scotland, a place that tends to be fairly okay with the European Union. The poll of 1,019 Scots found that were an indepedence referendum held today, 46 percent would vote to leave the U.K. and become independent while 43 percent would vote against and seek to stick with their neighbors to the south. This is the largest lead since shortly after the Brexit referendum in 2016. In 2014, Scotland rejected independence 55 to 45. However, in 2016 while England and Wales voted to leave, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the E.U., in a tight vote that finished 52 to 48.
Well, here’s a disconcerting finding: a new study found that dietary supplements are mostly useless, failing to increase lifespan or reduce cardiovascular disease. The analysis of 277 clinical trials of 24 interventions covering 992,129 research participants found almost all the vitamins or nutrient supplements could not be linked to longer life or better heath. And while the supplements themselves don’t tend to lead to negative health effects per se, they do have a psychological impact that isn’t great. One study found people who take supplements have been found to have an inflated view of their own health. One study gave participants a placebo, and told some it was a multivitamin. Those who believed they were taking a vitamin were more likely to participate in unhealthy activities like “sloth, binge-drinking, and partying” that researchers termed “hedonic” and I term “Thursday.” They were also more likely to consume an all-you-can-eat buffet compared to an organic meal, but let he among us without a heaping plate of crab legs throw the first stone.
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