Numlock News: March 15, 2023 • George Lucas, Taylor Swift, Metallica
By Walt Hickey
Vinyl sales have grown for the past 16 years, up 17 percent year over year to $1.2 billion in 2022, outselling CDs on a unit basis to become the single most popular format of physical media as of last year. The band Metallica is a pretty big player in vinyl, pressing 902,500 pieces of vinyl for 620,000 packages last year alone, and holding as the sixth-bestselling act on vinyl in the United States with 387,000 albums sold last year alone. Therefore, it makes some sense that Metallica decided to seize the means of production, and has purchased Furnace Record Pressing, a 70,000-square-foot vinyl pressing plant in Alexandria, Virginia. Besides guaranteeing a reliable supply of vinyl for the band — the market has been somewhat spotty amid supply chain challenges — it also buys them in directly to one of the most booming parts of the music industry.
The USGA is introducing a proposal for a Model Local Rule that would create a different set of rules when it comes to golf balls for the professionals versus amateur golfers. Under a set of prescribed test conditions called the Overall Distance Standard, USGA-approved balls can only fly 317 yards when hit between 120 miles per hour at 2,520 RPMs and 10 degrees of launch. The new proposed rule would change the conditions of that test, making it 127 mph clubhead speed, 2,220 RPMs of spin and 11 degrees of launch. The resulting ball that would qualify would, in effect, be slightly deader, and go 5 percent less far under the same swing conditions. The intention is to make a ball that won’t make current golf courses completely obsolete for pros that are hitting further and further thanks to the inexorable forward march of club quality and athletics. What’s expected now is a review period in which every possible entity with skin in the game gets extremely mad, so, look out for that one.
There are currently 24 prison-based newspapers in 12 states, according to a newly-launched directory from the Prison Journalism Project. The first newspaper produced solely by incarcerated people emerged in 1887 with The Prison Mirror in Minnesota, and since then several publications have emerged, including established publications like the San Quentin News, to serve the millions of people in the United States who are incarcerated. The number of prison newspapers peaked at 250 publications in 1959, decreasing to around six active publications by 1998, and then rebounding to the two dozen today.
Sandwiches are a major element of the American diet, and have an unexpectedly substantial impact on the aggregated nutrition of the country. Part of that is simply that sandwiches have gotten substantially larger over time, with a typical turkey sandwich in the 1980s containing 320 calories, up to 820 calories today. As a result, an analysis of federal nutritional survey data found that sandwiches alone are responsible for about a fifth of the daily sodium intake, 19 percent of saturated fat calories, and 7 percent of daily added sugars. If only we as a society knew this sooner, however we were so bogged down in heady questions of “is a hot dog a sandwich” that we were helpless to finish research.
Just ahead of her national tour kickoff, a new study sought to discern who precisely makes up the coalition of people who are fans of Taylor Swift, finding that 53 percent of Americans identify as a fan of Taylor Swift while 16 percent of Americans identified as an “avid fan” of Taylor Swift. The demographics are clear: overwhelmingly millennial (45 percent of adult fans in that demo), largely suburban (53 percent of respondents), pretty evenly split on gender (52 percent women), solidly left-of-center (55 percent Democrats, 23 percent Republicans) and rather white (74 percent). According to avid fans, a plurality holds that her best work is 1989, followed by her debut Taylor Swift and then Fearless and Red.
Many U.S. police departments maintain a social media presence, and many of these law enforcement organizations use these pages to post images of people they have arrested and list the charges against them in an attempt to juice engagement. An analysis of 14,000 Facebook pages maintained by law enforcement agencies found that they consistently overreported crimes by suspects who were Black, who represented just 20 percent of those arrested but accounted for 32 percent of the posts. Americans in general reliably overestimate the percentage of crimes committed by minority groups, and this could be either a reflection of that bias or indeed one of the causes of it.
George Lucas, the most successful indie film director in America, has long sought to build a museum housing his vast personal archives and collections of art. After years of development, construction on the $1 billion museum is finally underway, with a projected opening of 2025. That’s seven years after ground was first broken and several years more after the original intended opening in 2021. The museum, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, will hold 100,000 paintings, photographs and comic books, as well as two 299-seat theaters. Rather than mere memorabilia, it’ll contain Lucas’ collections of Norman Rockwell and Robert Crumb art as well as the works of several other artists. Lucas is, in fact, a gigantic Norman Rockwell geek, which is oddly hilarious, answering the question of “the dude who make a movie everyone else geeks out about, what does he geek out about?”
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