Numlock News: June 7, 2023 • One Ring, Vanderpump, Seals
By Walt Hickey
Bravo show Vanderpump Rules recently wrapped a massive, star-making season for the reality show, wherein the finale captured 4.1 million viewers across Bravo and Peacock. The cause was an affair between two case members that broke up a nine-year relationship between Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix that made for a devastating personal situation but evidently pretty good television. Having a breakup serve as an occupational boon is just a weird side effect of that, and the money really is coming in: Madix, who was the person cheated on, made $200,000 in online merch sales for her unopened sandwich shop, a peculiar situation in which a person got direct financial compensation for getting done dirty on a reality television program.
Magic: The Gathering, an expensive and addictive product that can also be used in a playable card game, is releasing a Lord of the Rings-themed set, because obviously it’s important to get the word out about The Lord of the Rings to the many people who play Magic: The Gathering who haven’t yet heard about it. The most sought-after card from the release is The One Ring card, of which there is literally one in existence. Already, brokers and investors are putting out eye-watering bounties for the card, with the current best offer up to $500,000, a seriously high baseline. For perspective, a signed Black Lotus just sold for $615,000, and that’s the gold standard in cardboard.
The Department of Homeland Security recently forced all people attempting to schedule an asylum appointment to do so through the CBP One app, which besides being plagued with issues of its own is also seriously underserving Haitians attempting to pursue asylum in the U.S. The app ostensibly supports five languages — English, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese and Haitian Creole — but according to Haitians the Creole sections are incredibly badly translated. Over 70,000 Haitian citizens have presented at U.S. ports of entry since October, and 40,000 of those happened at the U.S.-Mexico border. It’s so bad that the very word for “customs” is translated to the Haitian Creole word that actually means customs in the sense of “cultural traditions” and not, you know, Customs and Border Patrol.
A Canadian company pleaded guilty to illegally selling seal oil capsules to American consumers from 2019 to 2021. The company — FeelGood Natural Health — touted the seal oil capsules as a nutritional supplement. Seal oil is made from the blubber of dead seals, and is illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The global population of harp seals stands at around 7 million, and they’ve been hunted in Canada for thousands of years. FeelGood sold over 900 bottles of the capsules, worth over $10,000, and will pay a fine of $20,000 and three years of probation.
Many networks are trying to fill in their fall schedules with reality television in order to get around the impacts of the WGA strike. However, a new analysis from Morning Consult found that viewers are less likely to actually watch and engage with the shows compared to scripted programming, preferring them as background viewing rather than the kind of appointment television that networks have traditionally used to anchor their nights. Among adults, 51 percent said they’d prefer watching dramas with undivided attention, and 41 percent said they’d prefer watching comedies with undivided attention. On the other hand, only 25 percent said they prefer to watch reality television with total attention, and just 33 percent said they watch game shows undivided, two types of product that networks will be airing a whole lot of this coming fall.
Twitter, a billionaire’s money pit that at one point operated as a social network, has been having a terrible ad crunch recently. Ad revenue in the U.S. was down to $88 million over the five-week period following April 1, which is a 59 percent drop from the equivalent period a year ago. Try though they might to recruit blue chip advertisers back to the site, lax moderation has spooked the large companies that typically would serve as reliable marketers. The company is projecting that U.S. ad revenue this month will be down 56 percent each week year over year.
European countries are considering new cables connecting the continent to North Africa, which has abundant sunlight and strong potential for solar energy. A more robust set of connections between the two regions could help each get more reliable and green energy, with Europe exporting wind energy on windy days and potential solar fields in the deserts of North Africa exporting solar energy. There’s precedent in Spain, where the grid has had a link to Morocco since 1997. Several projects are under consideration, one including a 2,000-mile cable connecting Morocco with England. That’d cost some £22 billion, and it’s got some engineering challenges — a subsea cable of that length would lose roughly 13 percent of the power it carries along the journey, for instance — but it’s attracting interest nevertheless.
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