Numlock News: December 20, 2023 • Boosters, Barbie, Bonobos
By Walt Hickey
A new study published in the British Medical Journal analyzed 92 Barbie dolls as well as 65 comparison dolls that worked in the medical and science career tracks going back to the 1960s, including 53 doctor Barbies, 15 nurse Barbies, 11 dentist Barbies, 10 scientist Barbies, two science educator Barbies and one paramedic Barbie. The study found that of the medical professional Barbies, 66 percent (53 Barbies) overwhelmingly treated children while only 4 percent directly treated adults, and of 12 scientist Barbies, none of them used PPE properly for their given field. Overall, the comparison brands were more likely to be scientists, and Barbies were more likely to be doctors.
Trouble In The Suez III
About 12 percent of global trade goes through the Red Sea, and 30 percent of all global containers go through the corridor, and now the unrest in the region has led to an increase in attacks on ships attempting to go from the Bab-el-Mandeb strait to the Suez Canal. This has led to a response from various navies. The direct impact is that insurance to run a ship through the Suez has shot up, with the risk premium at 0.07 percent of the ship’s value as of the start of December, only to rise to 0.5 percent to 0.7 percent recently, with marine insurers now expanding the “high-risk” areas of the Red Sea.
The National Retail Federation has retracted an allegation they levied in April that of the $94.5 billion in merchandise that went missing in 2021, half of it was stolen by retail crime rings, a claim that drastically overstated the actual impacts of organized shoplifting. In reality, it wasn’t anywhere near close to half, as it was closer to about 5 percent, which is not nothing but is also not half. The idea that retailers were beset by organized robberies and the ensuing lobbying prompted not only futile sequesters of product behind locked barriers, but genuine, bona fide legislation across 14 states over the past two years following the claims of organized theft rings, with nine states toughening punishments or creating task forces to crack down on what is now understood to be a rather small element of the pains of retail.
All I Want
It’s Christmas, and so the obvious questions are on everyone’s mind: Will I be on the naughty list, or the nice list? What are you doing New Year’s Eve? Is the Elf on the Shelf an attempt to inure complacency with surveillance? Do they know it’s Christmastime at all? And, most importantly, yeah how much money do you think Mariah Carey makes this year? The answer is, it’s estimated, $1.86 million a year based on “All I Want For Christmas Is You” plays and downloads, plus god knows how much in sync, ads and licensing. Sony gets $3.44 million for their part, based on $8.5 million in publishing and master recordings, and Carey’s co-writer Walter Afanasieff getting his half of the publishing.
A new study of 26 chimpanzees and bonobos who had lived in zoos and sanctuaries in Europe and Japan were shown images of apes placed on a screen for three seconds. Some of the apes were unknown to the study subjects, while others were of known quantities, be they friend, foe or family — hey, it’s the holidays, someone can be all three — or even just apes in the same social group who had not been around for years. The subjects gazed at long-lost friends for 11 to 14 percent longer than those of strangers, indicating recognition. This is fascinating, as it indicated that chimps and bonobos can remember allies long after they’ve gone, but also troubling, as dang it seems like these creatures can hold a grudge; god help you if you’ve ever ticked off a monkey.
NBCUniversal has bought a 480-acre plot of land in the United Kingdom about 60 miles north of London in Bedford. This is often the first step toward constructing a theme park, so many are eyeing it as a potential European outpost of Universal Studios. This makes sense on a couple of levels, foremost being that Universal Studios has the Harry Potter rights, and Britain is the island that saw its film sector floated singlehandedly by that wizard story, so it makes sense. Other levels include that Universal also owns the Jurassic Park rights, and it’s possible that subjects of that monarchy would empathize with the plight of workers on an island owned by a delusional billionaire obsessed with his own genes. Perhaps this could also encourage other theme parks to consider the U.K.; after all, Florida’s EPCOT is the closest any post-Brexit Briton gets to experiencing Europe, so why not just bring it there?
The Golden Globes have had a rough couple years, as an organization that once was composed of 87 members has had to contend with a suite of issues, not the least of which was the revelation in 2021 that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association contained not a single Black member. This prompted a brief introspection but more importantly a considerably longer extrospection, one that led to them being dropped by their network, aggressively pursuing membership growth, and cashing out and selling to the owner of the main trade publications. What’s essentially happened is that the Golden Globe Awards that will air in a few weeks are a fundamentally different voter base, with 300 voters compared to 87 a few years ago, and enough turnover that only an estimated 19 percent of members were around in 2021.
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