Numlock News: December 21, 2023 • Dollars, Bears, Ski
By Walt Hickey
Pretty much the last day you can pick up my book before the holidays, if you do still need a spare gift.
The Met in New York plans to deaccession a portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, a painting that will now be auctioned off. This presents an exciting situation where a picture of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart will be paid for in dollars, each one dollar bill bearing a replication of a picture of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. The portrait, one of the earliest painted by Stuart in 1795, is one of only 14 versions of the Vaughn series of paintings known to exist today. According to estimates from Christie’s, the actual painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart is projected to sell for between 1.5 million serialized replica paintings of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart and 2.5 million serialized replica paintings of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.
All Downhill From Here
The ski industry has seen a wave of consolidation, and as of yet two titans have emerged. One is Vail Resorts, which has the $909 Epic Pass, good for seasonal access to 80 ski areas. The other is Ikon Pass, from Alterra Mountain Company — the behemoth that emerged from the marriage of Aspen and Interwest — which charges $1,159 for the Ikon Pass, which claims 55 ski areas. This is the duopoly era of skiing, and, for those who enjoy traveling to tall mountains and sitting down for large periods of time at the top of a slope, snowboarding. Visits to ski resorts are up, with last year posting a record 65.4 million days skied, up 6.6 percent year over year, but the duopoly and the inherent issues with industrial consolidation mean big changes for the actual experience of skiing.
In the post-9/11 era, the single most successful newcomer on the Christmas scene has been the Elf on the Shelf, which has sold 28.3 million Elf dolls and their associated pets globally. The position of Numlock on this matter is, historically, pretty strident, particularly when it comes to the implicit intent of normalizing a panopticon. The surveillance doll is a $100 million business, and claims over 75 licensing partners, including a 24-book publishing empire. This is exciting, because this year Numlock is launching Let’s Dismantle on the Mantle, a book about how the right to privacy used to mean something, damn it, and the surveillance state can be subverted one thrown rock at a time.
An analysis found that the United States government does not sufficiently enforce the endangered species law when it comes to grizzly bears, finding that from 2015 to 2022, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigated 118 potential violations of grizzly killings in the lower 48 states, and 74 of them claimed self-defense. Many of those claims of self-defense are a bit suspicious, more than a dozen of which showed clear violations of EPA policies, and only five of which led to criminal penalties.
The bad news is that in 5 billion years, the sun is going to be a red giant. The good news is, there’s actually a decent chance that this will not kill us. One astronomical unit is the distance between Earth and the sun. As it stands, the sun is poised to expand to 0.85 to 1.5 astronomical units in size, but the actual details are hard to discern. A nearby planetary system potentially demonstrates the issue, as an expanding star will also shed mass, and the expulsion of mass will also push a future Earth further and further out, because a less massive sun will also have less of a gravitational pull.
A new study found that 61 percent of Americans claimed they have at least some friends who have a different religion then they themselves possess, compared to 18 percent of respondents who said that hardly any or none of their friends have the same religion they do. Among the different religions, the percentage that claimed most or all of their friends shared the same religion was highest among historically Black Protestant churches (59 percent), Hispanic Catholics (54 percent), and Protestant Evangelicals (47 percent).
Brazil has adopted a new tax code, to the relief of many companies operating in the country. The Brazilian tax code was long held up as among the most difficult in the world, with the average company spending an estimated 1,500 hours per year to comply with the tax code, the most of any of the 190 ranked countries and five times the average of Latin America. The current tax regime — which has five different levies — will be consolidated into a single value-added tax over the next eight years, beginning in 2026. Some changes are pushed back to 50 years.
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