Numlock News: July 19, 2019 • Coffee, Apples, Thighs
By Walt Hickey
Have a wonderful weekend!
One of the perils of being young today is that for every financial decision one must make, there is a televised miser with a ghostwritten book and a demeanor of scorn ready to shame you for that choice. Buying a home, delaying buying a home, renting an apartment, all of these are evidently controversial, but none more so than drinking a cup of coffee, which any ascetic with access to both multiplication and the number 365 will insist is the worst type of habit one may have given the annual cost you’re blowing away. Sure, those in the millennial generation enjoy coffee more than their boomer counterparts, with the cohort making up just a quarter of the population but consuming 44 percent of the nation’s coffee. It’s the fact that these critiques exists in a vacuum that’s the real issue, like someone was unaware there’s a macroeconomics course offered the semester after the microeconomics course.
Though it’s easier than ever to make a podcast, it’s still just as hard as ever to get people to sit down for an hour and make something together, like a podcast. There are more than 700,000 podcasts, according to the Blubrry service, and about 2,000 to 3,000 new shows launch every single month. Still, let’s just say that lots of these shows seem to imitate the British television model more so than the American one. That is to say, lots of podcasts put out six episodes and then an unexpected special episode months later and perhaps near the holidays, rather than the more recurring, indefinite model. According to Blubrry, between March and May of 2019, only 19.3 percent of podcasts put out a new episode, implying that while this may be a shining new era for the medium, the fire tends to burn bright and brief for some entrants more than others.
ThirdLove is a company that sells lingerie to women over the Internet, offering 78 different sizes in order to appeal to a consumer tired of dealing with a lesser fit. Though it’s still a fraction of the $13.1 billion U.S. women’s underwear business, it’s sold 4 million bras ranging in price from $68 to $84. The big player in the underwear business is Victoria’s Secret, which controls 24 percent of the market, though they’ve been losing locations year after year amid the new competition.
Last week’s subscriber special edition was all about freshwater mussels, an animal I have never thought about but turns out to be one of the most fascinating creatures out there. You can find Sharon’s Levy’s book The Marsh Builders online and her story at Knowable Magazine.
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5G networks are coming out slowly but surely to U.S. smartphone consumers. The good news is that the download speeds are ridiculously good: a Wall Street Journal analysis of how long it takes various networks to download the 2.1 gigabyte new season of Stranger Things found the 34.1 megabit per second 4G average took about an hour each time. Sprint’s 5G network in Chicago did it in 3 minutes, 20 seconds. T-Mobile’s in New York did it in 2 minutes, 57 seconds. AT&T’s in Atlanta pulled it off in 37.9 seconds. And at 1,270 megabits per second, Verizon’s 5G network in Denver downloaded the 2.1 gigabyte season in just 33.6 seconds. Here’s the bad news: right now, using 5G for any considerable period of time will make your phone overheat and carrying out these tests legitimately required the tester to store the phone in a cooler.
Apples to Apples
Coming to a supermarket near you, after 22 years of development and a fortune of investment, is the Cosmic Crisp, a new cross of Enterprise and Honeycrisp apples developed by Washington State University that is finally ready for market. Growers pay royalties to WSU on every tree they buy and every box they sell, and they are poised to sell, as the apple is being launched with a $10.5 million marketing budget. An initial plan to start with 300,000 trees was kickstarted when 4 million were instead requested, and within three years, 13 million were planted at the cost of a half billion dollars. The forecast is that Cosmic Crisp will outpace Pink Lady and Honey Crisp within five years of launch.
Chrissy Teigen has been vindicated, with a shift over the past several years in tastes as Americans begin to turn from lean chicken breasts to the flavorful dark meat. Sales of chicken thighs are up 4.3 percent this year, after 2018 when they were up 7.6 percent, and 2017 when they were up 6.3 percent. Meanwhile, annual sales growth for chicken breasts fell from 2.8 percent in 2016 to 0.3 percent in 2019. And while more conventional tastes have tended toward the white meat, tastes change: Chipotle bought 115 million points of chicken last year, every ounce of it dark meat.
A North Carolina State University study of 180,000 Chrome extensions found 3,800 extensions that leaked privacy-sensitive data, with the 10 most popular alone accounting for 60 million users, and with 382 of the extensions appearing to be explicitly in the data selling business. Extensions can prove to be a backdoor in through more secure browsers or websites, particularly when they demand permissions that would otherwise exceed their explicit mandate. Well joke’s on them, I drink so much coffee I can’t possibly afford to buy whatever they’re trying to sell me based on the ridiculously detailed and distressingly accurate dossier they’ve constructed on me, so take that.
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