Numlock News: January 3, 2022 • Confetti, Converters, Cartoon Network
By Walt Hickey
Welcome back and happy New Year!
New Year’s Eve in Times Square returned this year, albeit in a mildly diminished capacity. Yes, you still had maniacs willing to brave hours in fenced-off areas in the center of Manhattan wearing hats advertising gym memberships and sunglasses that are really trying to carve an eye-hole in the number two, but there were “only” 15,000 people in Times Square. New York City’s Department of Sanitation, which has New Year’s cleanup down to a science, picked up 30 to 40 tons of confetti and debris, up from the 20 tons of debris at last year’s crowd-less New Year’s Eve but still shy of the 65 tons in a typical year.
Who Sublets A Pineapple Under The Sea?
The audience for kids television channels has collapsed in the past several years. Comparing 2021 to 2014, Disney Channel’s primetime audience is down 88.1 percent, Disney Junior’s audience is down 57.2 percent, and Nick Junior’s audience is down 52.3 percent. Nickelodeon has seen its primetime audience decline 74.5 percent since 2016, and Cartoon Network’s audience fell by 79.3 percent over that same period. The networks saw serious competition from YouTube at first, but then the streaming services that emerged in the past several years. The good news is that many of those networks also own their own streaming services, muddying the picture, but the bad news for ViacomCBS and Disney is that when it comes to cable carriage fees, Nickelodeon and Disney Channel are two of the biggest revenue drivers on television, and a loss of that audience could spell some pretty substantial problems down the line.
No, Way Home!
Spider-Man: No Way Home has earned $609.9 million domestically and has become the 10th highest grossing film in history. Last week it cleared the $1 billion threshold, doing so without releasing in China, and has made a grand total of $1.37 billion worldwide, beating The Battle of Lake Changjin to become the highest-grossing film of 2021. This caps off 2021’s box office domestically at $4.5 billion, beating previous expectations of $4.4 billion, up 101 percent over 2020 but still only 60 percent of the 2019 total. Sing 2’s strong performance — $89.8 million in two weeks — is especially encouraging, as movies for kids have been getting wrecked at the box office all year, and exhibitors had really hoped that the new availability of vaccines for kids older than 5 would be the thing to reverse that trend, and it appears it has.
In February of 2022, the deadline to exchange any remaining Portuguese escudos — the currency of Portugal prior to their shift to the euro — will end, meaning that the €95.3 million in still-redeemable escudos will join the €163.4 million in worthless unredeemed escudos left behind by the transition to a continental currency. France, Spain and Italy have already stopped exchanging old money, which rendered €762 million in francs, €1.6 billion in pesetas and €1.2 billion in lira worthless already. The Germans, though, who notoriously prefer to use cash over digital currency, are still loaded up on vestigial yet redeemable deutschmarks: there are €6.3 billion outstanding deutschmarks yet to be turned in for euros, and the Bundesbank has indicated it’ll indulge that love of cash and will continue exchanging deutschmarks for euros indefinitely.
Prices for precious metals like platinum, palladium and rhodium have been surging, and that price rise has sparked a spike in thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles. The parts, which reduce emissions, can sell for $50 to $300 on the black market for scrap metals, even though they’ll cost owners on the order of $1,000 to replace. The National Insurance Crime Bureau saw reported thefts of catalytic converters rise from 3,389 in 2019 to 14,433 catalytic converter thefts in 2020, with 2021 appearing to be far worse. In Richmond suburb Henrico County alone, 2021 saw reports of 540 stolen catalytic converters.
The port of Antwerp in Belgium saw seizures of 88 metric tons of cocaine found in containers coming from Latin America in 2021, a major jump from the 10 metric tons seized in 2014. Traffickers are shipping increasingly large amounts of cocaine to the continent through conventional means, through the major container ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. The amount coming into Antwerp is having such a substantial economic effect — warped real estate costs, open gang violence, increasing arrests of allegedly corrupt police and customs workers selling information to traffickers — that authorities are comparing the Belgian port to Miami in the 80s.
The James Webb Space Telescope, a decades-in-the-making scientific project, successfully got to space on Christmas Day, and in the time since has been bit by bit unfurling en route to the Lagrange point it will call home. On December 28, the observatory began the process of opening up its diamond-shaped sunshield, releasing the cover protecting the sunshield two days later, and on Friday successfully rolled out the five-layer sunshield. The silver shield is 69.5 feet long and 46.5 feet wide when fully deployed, and unfurling it included 140 release mechanisms, 70 hinge assemblies, 400 pulleys, 90 cables, and eight deployment motors, all orchestrated as the observatory flies 930,000 miles to its destination.
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