Numlock News: February 7, 2024 • Milk, Sports, Wolves
By Walt Hickey
Milk has become a bit of a battlefront, as the entities behind what has traditionally been sold as “milk” — the dairies that extract, market and sell cow’s milk — contend with an ascendant upstart from new companies that extract liquids from almonds, nuts and oats that owing to their resemblance are commonly referred to as milk. This battle has been waged in legislatures, before the FTC and in the hearts and minds of American consumers, and the fledgeling non-cow milks have steadily gained on their cow folks: While dairy milk is a $15.8 billion business in the U.S., plant-derived milks have grown 48 percent since 2018 to a $2.5 billion business.
Colorado released 10 wolves into its wilderness in December, an attempt to restore the native populations of the apex predator and enjoy the ecological benefits that will result from a restored and balanced food chain. Colorado has 23 million acres of public land and it’s got the largest elk herd in the West, but it’s also got 3 million head of cattle and sheep, and navigating the tense relationship between ranchers and wolves has been one Colorado wanted to solve ahead of time. Essentially, the plan is to pay them off for when a wolf picks off a member of the flock, just like Wyoming and Montana do, otherwise the fear being that confrontations between the ranchers and the wolves could break out into conflict that the new population of wolves would no doubt lose. The state will pay for up to seven missing calves or sheep for every one confirmed killed for ranchers that employ basic techniques to scare off wolves, like guard dogs or range riders, and offer a five-to-one payment for ranchers that don’t use any conflict minimization techniques. That’s up to a cap of $15,000 per dead animal.
Last year saw licensed, acquired shows on streaming services — essentially, the shows that already aired somewhere else and are being syndicated out to a streamer — soak up more and more viewer time compared to originals. Time spent watching things on streaming platforms was up by 21 percent compared to 2022, but the time spent watching the top 10 licensed shows was up 41 percent over 2022, with much of that growth fueled by Suits hitting Netflix. Overall, Americans spent 241.4 billion minutes watching the top 10 acquired shows on streaming in 2022, which rose to 339.5 billion minutes last year, a big chunk of which was the 57.7 billion minutes spent on Suits.
Every other year, a rare condition resembling polio called acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) hits a small number of kids very severely. There were 120 AFM cases in 2014, 153 cases in 2016, 238 cases in 2018, and very few cases in the off-years, which in and of itself was a real epidemiological mystery. Then, 2020 turned out to be an otherwise unique year from an epidemiology perspective, when there was no sign of AFM or much of the EV-D68 respiratory infection that seems to be linked to it. That led us to 2022, and everyone was pretty worried that it would be a severe one, as loads of kids who had no immunity were potentially in danger of getting AFM. Well, it was a bust again, with just 47 cases, not the hundreds feared, despite a surge in EV-D68. The why is still being figured out, but one suggestion is that so much junk was floating around in 2022 — RSV, COVID, the flu — that immune responses were escalated.
Whereas an unscrupulous car dealer might try to pass off a used car as new, the hot trend right now in the electric car export market is to pass off new cars as used. Carmakers won’t sell cars in markets where they are yet to develop a formal presence, which means that a Chinese car manufacturer like BYD won’t have dealers or sell in countries where they don’t have the ability to fix the cars. That doesn’t mean people in those countries don’t want a BYD, even if it means a little bit more maintenance on their end, which has led to businesses cropping up that buy a new car in China, register it, drive a bit, get it onto a boat, and sell it as used in Africa or Russia. For instance, a Li Auto L7 SUV is priced at the U.S. equivalent of $70,897, a $25,800 premium on the price in China. It’s catching on, which is causing issues for brokers: Margins are down from 15 percent to 8 percent this year.
Fox Corp., Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney are going in on a new joint streaming venture that will combine all of the sports programming on all of the ESPNs, all the FS1s, TNT, TBS, as well as their other various networks that bear sports programming. Pricing will be north of the $20 to $30 of your typical RSN but south of the $75 to $80 per month a typical live digital package runs. Combined, they control 85 percent of the sports rights market in America. Perhaps we’ll one day call it Combined Assets Bundling Large Entertainment, or a word for a coiled group of similar threads, or an ambitious creature on a beach (like Cay Bull).
Butter chicken — best known as the preferred dish of Caucasian people who think their palates have surpassed chicken tikka masala but have not quite hit chicken curry — was at one point invented. Who did that is at issue in a sensational case in India. The dish came from Moti Mahal, a New Delhi restaurant that became an international hit. The grandsons of each of the partners who owned Moti Mahal have been in a high-stakes legal fight, with one owning the 150-location Moti Mahal Delux, and the other owning the newer restaurant chain Daryaganj. The suit seeks up to $240,000 in damages.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.