Numlock News: June 19, 2019 • Batman, Claw Machines, Comedy
By Walt Hickey
Taiwan’s latest craze is claw machines, and all sorts of small investors are making solid money on the side renting out machines to fuel the craze. There are over 10,000 claw machine arcades in Taiwan — one for every two convenience stores —a count that doubled from 2017 to 2018. They are so popular that the Taiwan Central Bank had to raise its budget for the NT$10 coins that go into them. An estimated 100,000 people derive some sort of income from the claw machines, which contain not just toys, but also stuff like hair dryers and entertainment. An arcade owner will rent out their 30 machines for NT$5,000 per month each, or about $159. That’d reap a profit of $4,765 in U.S. dollars monthly, enough to break even in a year. For the renters, they can book a profit of NT$5,000 ($159) per machine per month. It’s with this that I would like to announce I am looking into moving to Taiwan, for both investment reasons and also because claw machines rule and, finally, I have found a society that not only tolerates them, but respects them.
A three-day scientific mission in 2017 saw a submersible travel 112 miles through a vast underwater mountain range, investigating salinity, temperature and turbulence at depths of up to 4,000 meters. This ambitious exploration unlocked new data that, we now know, connects accelerating winds over the Southern Ocean — themselves linked to the hole in the ozone layer — to increased underwater churn. This discovery backs up the theory that increased churn forces cold water to mix with warm, and subsequently causes a rise in sea levels. The findings are the result of the expedition involving the research vessel RRS James Clark Ross and the robotic submersible Boaty McBoatface. That’s right, people. Not only was Boaty McBoatface the name of a watercraft, that very same submersible has left an indelible mark on the McBoatface of science forever.
Drama in Comedy
Hopes that Crazy Rich Asians would bail out the entire genre of comedy have not come to fruition. Besides the January release of The Upside, no feature length comedy broke $100 million at the box office, and no summer comedy has even broken $35 million. Comedy as a genre has fallen on seriously hard times. The genre grossed $2.5 billion in 2009, which fell to $1.7 billion by 2012 and never again crossed $2 billion. The decline since then has only been worse, with $1.5 billion in 2016, $889 million in 2017 and a measly $1 billion last year. Last year comedies accounted for only 8 percent of box office, down from 25 percent back in 2008.
There was once a time when U.S. men’s soccer events brought in discernibly more money than the women’s events, but lately with the women's team being an international juggernaut and the U.S. men’s squad being functionally inert, the tables have turned. In 2009, the men’s national team hauled in $9.37 million to the $3.19 million the women’s team brought in. That figure largely held through 2015 when the women’s team made $3.16 million and the men’s brought in $14.87 million. But in 2016, the men’s team made $22.24 million to the women’s team’s $24.11 million, and the gap has been close since: both men and women brought in $14.61 million in 2017 and the women were just less than a million shy of the $13 million brought in by the guys in 2018.
Law enforcement intercepted a shocking 15,500 kilograms of cocaine in shipping containers in the port of Philadelphia on a boat that recently visited Colombia, Chile, Panama and the Bahamas. The street value of the drugs could approach $1 billion dollars, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I only ask at this time that you keep Gritty, the deranged Muppet serving as Flyers mascot, in your thoughts and prayers during what must be a very difficult time.
A new survey has resolved a generation of infighting among the Batman fan community, settling once and for all the question of who was the best at playing Batman. Christian Bale and Michael Keaton scored the highest favorability ratings as the caped crusader, with Bale’s Nolan-directed Bat seeing 60 percent net favorability to Keaton’s Burton-directed Bruce Wayne seeing 59 percent. Among those 18 to 29, the more-recent Bale easily surpasses Keaton, 71 percent net favorability to 38 percent. Val Kilmer’s Batman came out ahead with 28 percent, Clooney’s got 25 percent, and the recently concluded Affleck run at the Bat wrapped with 18 percent. The survey comes no closer to settling the Joker question, with Jack Nicholson eeking out a win within the margin of error, but Heath Ledger dominating among the youths.
American cities are in the grip of a housing crisis unlike any seen before, and one cause is that on 75 percent of residential land in American cities it’s illegal to build anything that is not a single-family detached home. For instance, 84 percent of Charlotte’s residential land is single-family zoned, 75 percent of L.A.’s, 70 percent of Minneapolis’s, 36 percent of Washington D.C.’s is, while in New York only 15 percent of residential land is so exclusively zoned, including 25 percent of Queens, 3 percent of Brooklyn and 0 percent of Manhattan. In San Jose, at the very heart of Silicon Valley’s housing apocalypse, 94 percent of residential land is detached one-family homes. You can’t increase density under those circumstances, and NIMByggeddon is soon upon us.
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