Numlock News: January 11, 2019
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Numerous & Humorous
There are 8,245 mile marker signs on Washington state highways. Roughly 200 are missing, and Washington State Department of Transportation has had to replace 608 mile marker signs since 2012. In related news, the Washington Department of Transportation has begun removing frequently stolen mileposts 69 and 420 from roads altogether, or has replaced them with mile markers 68.9 and 419.9. For those out of the loop, those are the sex number and the weed number, respectively, and are evidently worth risking a $1,000 fine or 90 days in jail to get them on a dorm room wall.
Last March, China stopped approving the release of new video game titles. China’s the world’s largest market, with 620 million players spending $37.9 billion on video games last year. That moratorium ended two weeks ago, with the approval of 80 new games in late December and 84 new games this week. Left off the list: games from NetEase and Tencent, the largest domestic developers in China. Approval for games stopped amid claims they were addictive and caused nearsightedness, which, I’ll have you know, I was obsession prone and had terrible eyesight long before I played a video game.
A study of user behavior in the months around the 2016 presidential election found that generally speaking, the vast majority of people on the internet are fairly good at using the internet and not getting bamboozled by manufactured news. Only 8.5 percent of users studied had shared one or more links from a web domain that historically shared fake and invented news. That number increased with age: 11 percent of users older than 65 shared a fake link, compared to 3 percent of the savvier 18-to-29-year-old participants. And while that’s still the vast majority of older users not getting duped, the duped were really, really share-heavy, sharing seven times as many fake news articles as the youngest demo.
The number of Americans older than age 16 who hunt is down 18 percent from 20 years ago. There are lots of reasons for this — the youth flight from rural areas to cities, popularity of competing leisure activities, the complicated relationship a generation raised on lockdown drills has with firearms, Red Dead Redemption 2 — but many hunting groups are looking to combat this by offering tutoring or mentorship programs, bowhunting tutorials, and touting the fundamentally field-to-table nature of hunted game. The lapse in hunting may have some pretty significant effects should the activity decline, as conservation efforts are regularly funded through fees collected from hunters.
Don’t Cross Streams
In order for paper, aluminum, or plastic to be efficiently recycled, it can’t be greasy or filthy or covered with crap. When people pre-sort their recyclables — called “dual-stream” or “multi-stream” — it’s easier to make sure that the cardboard isn’t covered in shattered glass and the plastic isn’t coated in pulp. But the more convenient single-stream recycling — where everything is dumped in the same container for the sorting plant to deal with — went from covering 29 percent of American communities in 2005 to 80 percent in 2014. That came with tradeoffs, as the amount of recycled waste too contaminated to actually recycle went from 7 percent a decade ago to 25 percent today. And with China not buying the stuff anymore, recycling in the U.S. is about to undergo some big changes.
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Kirkland Signature, the in-house brand for Costco, made $40 billion last year, an 11 percent increase from the previous year. That’s more than Macy’s and JCPenney combined, and Kirkland plays a fascinating role in price-setting in the retail world. Costco sells about 3,800 different products at its club warehouses, and Kirkland sells for at least 20 percent cheaper than the national brands. This does a pretty good job of setting a price anchor on the rest of the market, and other retailers are taking note: Member’s Mark, the Sam’s Club equivalent in-house brand, makes up 27 percent of Sam’s sales, and Amazon is aggressively rolling out in-house brands.
Remember The Name
In 1996, Pacific Telesis agreed to pay $50 million for the naming rights to the future home of the San Francisco Giants over the next 24 years, and then paid another $8 million to extend the deal. That telecom eventually found a home in AT&T, which is why the stadium is called AT&T Park. But news broke that Oracle, the second-largest software maker in the world, will pay over $200 million for the naming rights for the next 20 years, effective immediately with the new deal. That hefty price tag has become the norm: when the Golden State Warriors move to the Chase Center in the 2019-20 season, JP Morgan Chase & Co. will be paying $15 million to $20 million per year, and on the other coast Barclays is paying $400 million over 20 years to be the home of the Brooklyn Nets and other mediocre Long Island-based sports franchises.
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