Numlock News: January 11, 2022 • Honey, Encanto, Zynga
By Walt Hickey
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Disney animated film Encanto has produced a hit soundtrack, with the album becoming the first to secure the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 in over two years. The last soundtrack to become the best-selling album in America was Frozen II. It didn’t take a whole lot to nail the top spot — Encanto had 72,000 album-equivalent units in the week, which beat out Adele’s 30 which had 57,000 units — but the animated musical’s soundtrack is on a tear, up 76 percent week over week. The album entered the charts in December at No. 197 as Encanto ran into an Omicron-chastened kids movie box office, rising to No. 110 two weeks ago and then No. 7 last week, a rise from nearly last to No. 1 that’s only happened two other times in history. However, all isn’t perfect for Disney on this one: in an attempt to avoid vote splitting, in November the company only put up “Dos Oruguitas” as their submission for the Oscar for Best Original Song from the movie, all part of their plan to get Lin a damn EGOT. But the breakout hit — with over 60 million views on YouTube and the #1 trending on the platform, and No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 — has actually turned out to be “We Don’t Talk About Bruno.”
The United States Postal Service, which had a plan to purchase tens of thousands of gas-burning mail trucks, has delivered a price quote on the cost of going all electric to be $3.3 billion. That’s one of the conclusions as part of an environmental impact statement released Friday. The Next Generation Delivery Vehicle program has come under scrutiny as the USPS is one of the most energy-intensive government agencies, and the USPS needs to replace 165,000 of its 212,000-truck fleet in the next decade, which would be an ideal opportunity to fulfill several long-term climate goals. The agency estimated it would cost $2.3 billion to electrify the first 75,000 vehicles, plus another $1 billion to electrify the whole fleet. The large spending bill currently under consideration in Congress would, as currently written, provide $2.5 billion for USPS to buy EVs and $3.4 billion to install charging infrastructure, though that piece of legislation is still under negotiation.
The price of grade AA butter hit $2.66 per pound for the week ending January 7, up significantly from the $2.02 per pound logged in the week ending December 11, 2021. That week, the price of butter was still up 40 percent compared to the same week of 2020. The reason for the jumps included smaller cow herds, labor shortages, and the cost of packing materials, with logistical issues in freight limiting overall supply. All told, in 2022 year to date, overall butter production is down 2.8 percent.
Bought The Farm
Take-Two Interactive, the publisher of games like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, has bought Zynga for $12.7 billion. Zynga makes mobile games, the best-known of which is Farmville, which folded in 2020. Though the foundations of the Zynga empire were in farming for sure, since that first mobile hit, the company has bought up a swath of casual mobile games, which traditional publishers are increasingly realizing is where the real money is. That’s the same reason Activision Blizzard bought Candy Crush maker King Games for $5.9 billion in 2015, and explains Tencent’s acquisition of Clash of Clans maker Supercell for $10 billion in 2020.
The James Webb Space Telescope has fully and seemingly successfully unfurled, and is now continuing its journey to the gravitational point L2. It’s still got to calibrate four scientific instruments and align its mirror, but the riskiest bits are done with. It’s currently projected to get to L2 on January 23, but on the way it’s got to shed a little heat. The telescope is designed to operate at a temperature of minus 233 C, which is 40 degrees above absolute zero. Right now it’s at minus 200 C on the cold side behind the sunshield. When it arrives at L2 in two weeks it’ll be about five months of calibration before we get the first scientific results.
Lots of large companies are installing beehives on the roofs of their corporate offices, a quirky and interesting way to contribute to the livelihood of urban bees. That said, it’s hitting the point where the amount of urban flowers is pretty well-serviced in most major cities as a result. The Montreal-based company Alvéole operates 3,100 beehives for 600 companies in 20 North American cities. Paris is home to 2,500 hives, up from 300 hives in 2010. Indeed, in Paris and Berlin, there are places where there are more than 20 beehives per square kilometer, which means that the corporate-backed bees compete with local pollinators for food. Greater London’s 7,500 urban beehives are arguably past the point of sustainability, according to some apiary consultants. That’s just one reason that The Numlock Conglomerate of Companies is committed to our ecological goals through alternative means, by not killing spiders when asked to kill a spider and instead helping the spider escape or hide, because that’s the cool thing to do.
Demand for fur has collapsed in Europe and North America, prompting the $25 billion fur industry to both probe new markets as well as try to rehabilitate their image to consumers who have turned on fur trimmings. They’re pitching a certification program called Furmark, which they argue ensures animal welfare and sustainable practices, you know, up to the moment that the animals are killed for their pelts. Still, it’s not entirely clear if there’s demand for a rebound for fur; fashion houses are reluctant to integrate fur because the last thing they want is a wave of negative publicity, and multiple countries have begun to introduce bans on fur farming, including fashion powerhouses France and Italy. That said, the fur business is doing a bonanza of sales in China, which has seen its market for fur increase fivefold since 2006, largely responsible for a 40 percent increase in sales for the global fur industry over the past 15 years, the same period when demand collapsed in the West.
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