Numlock News: July 14, 2022 • Comic Books, Sea Turtles, Iced Coffee
By Walt Hickey
Last year the total market for North American comic book sales on both print and digital download hit a breathtaking $2.075 billion, significantly more than the $1.28 billion logged in 2020 and a massive spike in the relatively stable market for comics. The 62 percent increase in sales is staggering, not only in light of the recent comic sales; the most recent high water mark for comic sales was 1993, when $1.6 billion worth of product was sold. The robust sales of graphic novels — alone $1.47 billion last year — drove the surge, nearly triple the 2016 values.
Scientists have had recent success using data collected in real time from satellite-tagged marine animals to get data on storms as they move across remote parts of the oceans. In the southwest Indian Ocean, for instance, right now 80 tagged sea turtles released from 10 different spots around the ocean sporting 250-gram tags are piping oceanic data back to a research group hoping to get data on tropical storms as they pass over the turtles. Helping matters is that turtles dive deep enough — 25 meters to 200 meters — to the regions where scientists want to get a good look to discern if storms are going to intensify. Indeed, the only downside is that it completely ruins my pitch for a Pixar film about a sea turtle that yearns to be a local network TV meteorologist.
Google sent a request to the FEC this month that asked for a green light on a program that would essentially let it rip when it comes to political emails, which would no longer be susceptible to spam filters following the proposed move and get a direct line to primary inboxes. The commenting period on the proposal remains ongoing, and believe it or not people sure seem to oppose the firehose of political spam: Of just 48 comments submitted, only two support Google’s move. Per Insider*, the commenting period ends July 16, so if you have any thoughts don’t hesitate to let email@example.com know.
India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) is the largest public employment program in the country, guaranteeing at least 100 days of paid employment annually to adults in rural parts of India. As of 2020, upwards of 82.9 million people are enrolled in the program. Lately, at issue is the new National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) app. It’s designed to make the program more accountable and transparent, but is actually causing issues because its requirements to prove time-stamped and geotagged work attendance don’t work as intended in rural environments where internet connections might be scarce.
Demand for computers is in free fall, with shipments in the second quarter of 2022 dropping 12.6 percent year over year, the largest such decline in nine years. Last year computer makers moved 82.4 million PCs, a figure that slipped to 72 million this April through June. When work-from-home was novel, people spent a bunch on machines for their homes, but now that things have stabilized a bit that demand is subsiding. According to Gartner, a market research firm, Chromebooks in particular took a massive punch, with shipments declining 50 percent.
Sales of cold brew coffee ordered at quick-serve restaurants was up 27 percent in the 12 months ending April 2022, hitting about 373 million servings. Cold coffee beverages in general were huge in 2022, with frozen and slushy beverages up 3 percent and iced coffee up 11 percent, and chilly coffee making up 80 percent of Starbucks’ sales. Some attribute it to the pandemic, as cold beverages tend to travel a little better than hot beverages, with cold beverage sales particularly robust in the afternoon.
An analysis of satellite imagery found that 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) of the Amazon rainforest have been destroyed from January to June of this year, the single worst amount of forest destruction in a six-month period of the past seven years. Most concerningly, this is the rainy season, and deforestation usually kicks into gear in the back half of the year when it’s drier and the roads are more reliable. That 4,000 square kilometers — about half of which was in public lands — is up 80 percent over the same period of 2018.
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*In the interest of full disclosure, a place I work at, written by a journalist I work for.
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