Numlock News: January 10, 2020 • Traps, Atom Smasher, Pokemon Go
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Yo! Champ in making. Though casuals may have let it escape their radar, Pokémon Go actually had its best year ever last year, making $894 million, up from the $832 million it pulled in 2016 when it was unleashed on an unsuspecting world that July. That’s a big bounce back from the $589 million notched in 2017. All told, per SensorTower, the game has generated $3.1 billion over the course of its lifetime and has been downloaded 55 million times worldwide. Last year, the U.S. accounted for $335 million in revenue, Japan for $286 million and Germany for $54 million. Pokémon Go remains the top Arcanine when it comes to location-based mobile games; by comparison, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite made a paltry $23 million. I never got into Pokémon Go personally after a bad experience in Mt. Moon getting my fossils jacked from me by some teenager and being derisively called a super nerd.
FX’s annual tally of television found that in 2019 there were 532 scripted series, which is up 7 percent year over year. What’s more, that number is poised to go up even higher in 2020, nearly guaranteeing that you’ll never be able to have another conversation about television ever again. FX — bought by Disney as part of the Fox acquisition — is moving to streaming in its own way through a partnership with Hulu.
Index funds are really popular among people who want to invest their money, but have better stuff to do than care about the stock market. That’s fine, and it’s great to have an autopilot function for stocks, but there are side effects to giving three index fund makers an inordinate stake in the global market. Blackrock’s iShares has $7 trillion under management, Vanguard has $5.6 trillion and State Street has $2.9 trillion. As a result, about 22 percent of shares in a typical S&P 500 company is in their three portfolios, which is considerably higher than the 13.5 percent seen in 2008. The three own 18 percent of Apple. They don’t vote as a bloc, which on one hand is good, but on the other hand that means as a solid fraction of corporate governance they’re entirely asleep at the wheel.
In the latest year for which data is available, 63,000 kids were adopted from foster care in the United States in 2018, which is an all-time high. The percentage of kids leaving foster care for adoption rose from 21 percent in 2014 to 25 percent in 2018, and 50 percent of the children were under age five. The spike is absolutely a good thing for the kids; however, the surge in children in the foster care system is one gut wrenching symptom of the opioid crisis. All told, there were 437,000 kids in foster care in 2018, which was 6 percent higher than the number in 2010. In 2018, 49 percent of the kids leaving foster care were reunited with their parents or primary caretakers.
It’s a Trap
“Ghost gear” is the term used to describe fishing equipment that has been lost or destroyed over the course of use, and it’s a considerable problem. Globally, something like 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment are added to the ocean annually. In 2017, it’s estimated that fishers lost 8.6 percent of traps, 5.7 percent of nets and 29 percent of all lines. This is a hazard not just for boaters and other fishers, but also for the ecosystems themselves, as just because someone’s not going to haul it in doesn’t mean that traps stop working. Re-baiting is when something is caught in the net or trap and — as they’re trapped — in turn becomes bait itself, perpetuating a cycle that can also kill non-target species like turtles or whales.
The Department of Energy has selected Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York as the site of a new Electron-Ion Collider, which will shoot beams of electrons into beams of protons to figure out what exactly the deal is with protons. It’ll cost somewhere between $1.6 billion and $2.6 billion, and in a rematch of Amazon’s HQ2, New York beat out Virginia for the collider, which will be a fully armed and operational battle station by 2030. The generalities of proton structure are basically understood — three quarks held together by exchanging gluons — but the detailed structure is an enigma, one which will be probed somewhere on Long Island.
If you’re a programmer feeling antsy in your current line of work, January is jobs season for tech occupations. In the U.S. postings for tech jobs surge early in the year, with jobs in the space composing on average 5.8 percent of all postings on Indeed from 2014 to 2019. Compare that to the lowest count, August, when 5.4 percent of all gigs are in tech. The most common title in tech is “software engineer,” making up 6.8 percent of titles, followed by “senior software engineer” with 4 percent on the high end and “software artificer (blood magic specialty)” with 0.001 percent of all tech job listings. Oh, also, Numlock is hiring by the way, let me know if, you know, have four years of experience in both front-end development and necromancy, email is a heck of a medium to work in.
Last Sunday, I spoke to the brilliant folks at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative about their latest report about the progress of women in the directors chair. Check it out!
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