Numlock News: June 21, 2022 • Shipwreck, Treasure, Internal Revenue Service
By Walt Hickey
Snack conglomerate Mondelēz has purchased Clif Bar & Company for $2.9 billion, adding the snack bar brand to a line of products that currently includes Oreo, Ritz and Triscuit. If Mondelēz’s process of purchasing Clif Bar is anything like my personal process when I buy a Clif Bar, presumably they originally just wanted a snack or something, then almost went for a cookie but wanted to go for something a little healthier, then almost grabbed something actually healthy but decided they wanted something that still was a treat, and eventually settled on something with approximately the same nutritional value of a cookie but with the vague aesthetic of being healthy: Clif Bar.
The Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov in 2021 has sold at auction for a staggering price of $103.5 million, which is equivalent to 100 million Swiss francs. The auction was set up so that the proceeds were to be donated to UNICEF to raise money for Ukrainian child refugees. That’s a massive increase on the previous high water mark for a Nobel Prize at auction, which was $4.76 million in 2014 for James Watson’s Nobel Prize for his discovery of DNA.
Jumbo Floating Restaurant
The Jumbo Floating Restaurant, an 80-meter-long massive floating seafood restaurant founded in 1976 by a casino mogul in Hong Kong, was due to be retired and hauled away from its moorings in Aberdeen harbor. Business was terrible, with a net loss of HK$100 million during the early pandemic with closures and a lack of maintenance that both jeopardized the future of the ship as well as led the 30-meter barge that served as the kitchen to sink earlier this month. The ship was towed away last Tuesday, bound for an undisclosed location. That would have been the end of the story, except for the fact that in a shocking turn of events the entire facility capsized and sunk in the South China Sea after encountering some weather, and is unsalvageable given the depths of 1,000 meters at the scene, according to owners. Anyway, “becoming a safe habitat for fish” is easily the single most ironic thing that can happen to a seafood restaurant.
The Commercial Pattern Archive is an ongoing project by archivists, historians and the professional and amateur fashion community to preserve thousands of home sewing patterns that otherwise may be lost. They’re a fascinating look at what people of all different social classes wore and the craft that went into home-made clothing for most of history, and the archive now has 56,000 physical patterns, the oldest of which is from 1847 when the distribution format first began to emerge. In particular, patterns from the 1940s to 1970s — anywhere from 7,000 to 9,000 patterns per decade — are in great supply, given the heyday of home sewing.
According to the 2022 Africa Youth Survey, 52 percent of the young people in Africa would like to emigrate, a 22 percent increase over the fraction observed in 2019 before the pandemic. This restlessness among young people is particularly critical on a continent where the average age is 19 years of age. The pandemic has been especially hard in Africa, where 18 percent of young Africans had to move back home from cities as a consequence, and four in 10 had to pause or stop school.
Officials have long tried to kill a pervasive tax deduction that the IRS calls abusive and a scam, but the private interests who benefit from it have managed to hold reform back. The basic facts: There’s a tax break designed to encourage preservation of land, and when people who own large tracts of land donate it to a nonprofit land trust, they get a deduction. There have been over 2,000 such nonsyndicated easement deductions and the donors got $1 billion in annual deductions, which is great, that’s the intention. The deduction that’s got officials fuming is the syndicated easement deduction. The playbook there: A promoter buys up a bunch of cheap junk empty land, maybe an old golf course, and then hires an appraiser who says it’s got enormous development value, and then they sell stakes in the land to people who want to cut their taxes, and then donate the crappy land and everyone claims a colossal deduction. In 2018, there were only 296 of these syndicated deals, but they produced $9.2 billion in deductions.
The San José was a Spanish galleon with a cargo of millions of gold and silver coins and other treasure that sank off the coast of what is now Colombia in 1708. A month ago, the Colombian navy released footage of the now-found ship 600 meters under the waves. The cargo today is worth anywhere from $17 billion to $20 billion, but to whom it belongs is a thorny, legally fraught question. Spain says it’s theirs, since it’s their military vessel sunk in a military engagement. Colombia says it’s theirs, and while the reasoning has shifted over the years, the reality is it’s in their waters. The Qhara Qhara, a Bolivian indigenous group, says it’s got a claim on it, because they say the contents of the ship were looted from them. Lastly, Sea Search Armada, an American salvage company, says they actually discovered it and are entitled to half of whatever is raised. Congratulations to the real winners of the discovery: the lawyers.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.