Numlock News: March 17, 2022 • Jordans, Doritos, Drive to Survive
By Walt Hickey
Link In Bio
Linktree is a service that offers people a solitary link that they might place in their social media bios that directs those who click to a menu of options that can include their presences on multiple different other social networks. It’s a simple service with 12 million global users, but one that is seen as inordinately valuable: Linktree has raised $55.7 million in two funding rounds over the last year and a half, and a recent $110 million funding round has valued the company at $1.3 billion, a solid chunk of change for a digital business card service.
The average cost of an interest checking account was $16.35 per month last year, with monthly fees on noninterest checking accounts averaging $5.08. It costs a lot of money to have money: The average out-of-network ATM fee was a breathtaking $4.59, up from a downright reasonable $1.97 in 1998, functionally hitting casino ATM prices at your standard mom-and-pop ATM terminal. Insufficient fund fees are also on the rise, jumping to $33.58 in 2021 from $21.57 in 1998. That adds up: Bank revenue from overdraft and insufficient fund fees hit $15 billion in 2019.
Of the 68 teams that made the Men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament, 39 of them wear Nike shoes — six of those wearing the Jordan “Jumpman” logo — while 16 wear Under Armour and 13 wear Adidas. This has been the case for the past seven years: Nike owns most of the top-tier college basketball market, while the other two brands in the space roll up the rest. The Jordan brand has seen significant growth over the past several years, both on the court — two March Madness teams wore Jordans in 2015, up to seven teams last year — and off the court, with the brand’s revenue rising from $2.6 billion in 2015 to $4.7 billion in 2021.
Frito-Lay will drop the weight of a bag of Doritos from 9.75 ounces to 9.25 ounces, which will mean an average of five fewer chips per bag. It’s part of a phenomenon known as shrinkflation, where rather than hike up prices by a couple of dimes due to rising costs, brands would rather just discreetly cut the amount of product in a given serving and keep the price the same. Other products that have downsized include Crest toothpaste (dropped from 4.1 oz to 3.8 oz) and Bounty Triples, which went from 165 sheets of paper towels to 147 sheets per roll.
The percentage of U.S. respondents who identified as a Formula 1 fan rose from 21 percent in 2020 to 28 percent in 2022, a pace that vastly outstrips the growth in NASCAR (up 3 percentage points), IndyCar and NHRA (each up 3 percentage points), and MotoGP (up 6 percentage points). Formula 1 holds only a single race in the United States, and doesn’t have any American drivers; however, the Netflix documentary series Drive to Survive, which takes viewers behind the scenes of the tournament, has been a huge boon to the sport. All told, of the people who identified as Formula 1 fans, 53 percent said that Drive to Survive was a reason behind their fandom, with 30 percent saying it was a major reason. Anyway, I have no idea what this appeal is, or why my F1 fan friends have insisted I go by Valtteri rather than Walter.
A new survey of international relations experts found overwhelming agreement with the idea that establishing a no-fly zone over Ukraine would be a bad decision for the United States, with only 7 percent of the 866 respondents thinking that would be a good policy to pursue. That’s only marginally better than the 2 percent of experts who think that initiating a direct military operation against Russia is a good plan, so not exactly something with a solid backing. Popular policies among the experts surveyed included sanctions, accepting refugees, sending arms and stopping the purchase of Russian energy exports.
The James Webb Space Telescope has been spending its initial weeks calibrating the mirrors that will be used to see into the depths of spacetime. It’s been using one star in a particularly dark bit of sky to calibrate and align its instruments. The star is 2,000 light-years away and 100 times fainter than the human eye can see, but the latest round of calibration has made the incredibly tiny star shine and dominate the frame, while also turning up thousands of galaxies behind it — galaxies that are billions of years old and just accidentally captured during the calibration process. Again, this was just an incidental side effect of calibrating the camera, the equivalent of accidentally photographing a dead galaxy during a shutter misfire.
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