Numlock News: March 2, 2022 • Manga, Fake Tattoos, Dealers
By Walt Hickey
Tattoos are complicated in Hollywood. If you’re an actor without tattoos playing a character with them, you’re looking at hours a day in the makeup booth getting fake tats. But if you’re an actor with tattoos, you’re more likely than not going to have to cover them up, because of a recent series of lawsuits where tattoo artists exerted their copyright over designs they’d tattooed on an actor’s body that were exhibited on screen without permission or compensation. To avoid legal peril, artists can’t even replicate a real person’s tattoos on-screen without flirting with a lawsuit, and must change the tattoo design between 20 percent and 30 percent to ensure the production stays out of court. And sure, the studios could fight it out in court, but let’s be blunt, they’re not exactly in the business of weakening copyright protections for art shown exhibited on screen. It’s easier to just hire a guy with a library of thousands of tattoo designs in-house so the copyright’s free and clear.
Unit sales of manga in the United States hit 24.4 million copies moved in 2021, which was up a staggering 15 million units year over year. That growth rate — 160 percent year over year — is unheard of, and may even still be an undercount depending on how some titles of My Hero Academia get classified. Manga alone was responsible for 25 percent of the overall growth in the book industry in the United States last year, according to the vice president of publishing sales at Viz Media. A year earlier, manga was a $250 million chunk of a $1.28 billion American comic book market. In the first quarter of last year, graphic novels saw sales increase by 4 million units year over year, and manga alone was responsible for 80 percent of that growth.
A new archeological study analyzed 20 partial skull fragments found in a cave in Spain, and found that 17 of the people showed signs of a depressed skull fracture. That’s what you’d get when you’re hit with a blunt object on the head, and while that could kill an early human these skulls all showed that they’d made some kind of recovery from the injury in their life, evidence that it was a pretty routine occurrence for ancient humans to sustain and survive minor head injuries. Some of the skulls were host to over 10 of the healed fractures, suggesting a very violent or absent-minded lifestyle for the earliest humans. Then again, they were all found in a cave, a place known for abysmal lighting and flighty ceiling design, so I feel like I have a hunch.
So, the good news is, the fire on the Felicity Ace went out. I will caution, there is some bad news as well. The Felicity Ace, which caught fire transporting 4,000 cars and burned for days, has finally sunk 220 nautical miles off the coast of the Azores. The ship sank at around 9 a.m. local time, guaranteeing that any of the Porsches aboard that had not yet succumbed to the constant flames or been so choked with smoke as to render them useless to all but the most committed smoker, well they’re now rather soggy and pretty definitively beyond the hope of salvage. The cargo on board — much of which were Volkswagen AG vehicles including Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, VW and Audi — was estimated to be worth around $438 million, and given the manner of their burial — aflame on a drifting boat — we can take comfort knowing they’ll be getting excellent use in Valhalla.
Americans drank 85 billion servings of tea in 2021, an amount of the beverage considered altogether laughable by the rest of the earth, which on a per capita basis is far more into tea than Americans. Packaged tea sales are on the decline, falling 4.8 percent in the 52 weeks ending January 29. But the tea brands of the U.S. have a plan: They’re going to really lean into the wellness mumbo jumbo. Teas claiming to have probiotic benefits rose to $29 million in annual sales, teas purporting to have immune health benefits rose to a $34 million market, and Twinings’ Superblends line of teas — which are sold as sleep aids, or energy boosters, or immune support — grew 31.2 percent month over month since September. Electrolytes, they’re what tea plants crave.
A new survey from Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of Americans would prefer developing alternative energy sources like wind and solar if given the choice, while just 30 percent said they’d rather prioritize expanding oil, coal and natural gas. A similar breakdown — 69 percent in favor, 28 percent opposed — also happens when asked if they’d prefer the country take steps to become carbon neutral by 2050 or if they’d oppose those measures. That said, while only 31 percent think the country should completely phase out fossil fuels, that is a pretty buckwild number backing the phased elimination of what is currently the main fuel source in the country, and a testament to the advances made by the climate movement. Fully 72 percent of respondents support the federal government encouraging wind and solar power.
Many automobile dealers aren’t really in the automobile business; they’re in the auto financing business. Cash buyers are being told that their business isn’t welcome, or if they do want to do it they can reap significant savings by going with dealer-organized financing and then just paying the balance owed in full sometime after the ink dries. That’s because financing is a massive source of revenue for the dealerships: In 2021, the average dealer profit from a new vehicle sale was $1,236 from the financing and insurance part of the business alone, up from $483 per vehicle in 2005. Last year lenders extended $734 billion in auto loans, a new record, and 55 percent of buyers did dealer-arranged financing, also a record since 2005.
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