Numlock News: March 21, 2022 • Nickels, Puppets, Miami
By Walt Hickey
Jujutsu Kaisen 0
The Batman hauled in another $36.8 million this weekend to secure the top spot at the box office, but in second place was Jujutsu Kaisen 0 with $17.7 million, a solid performance for an anime feature and just 17 percent lower than juggernaut Demon Slayer made in April 2020. That means that it sold about 1.3 million tickets, a testament to the rising appetite for anime movies at the North American box office. The film is a prequel to the Jujutsu Kaisen television anime, and tells the story of a high school student who becomes a sorcerer and deals with a cursed spirit of a childhood friend who continues to haunt him.
A copy of Marvel Comics #1 sold at auction for $2,427,800. The 1939 comic introduced the characters of Sub-Mariner and the original version of the Human Torch, the big bang of what would become the Marvel universe. This issue in particular is the “pay copy” because it also included handwritten notes from the publisher detailing how much the writers and artists were paid, such as how the artist who designed the cover got $25 for his work. The humble origins of the universe — listen it tells the stories of a wet guy and a constantly on-fire man, it’s not exactly Endgame we’re talking about here — formed the base of the superheroic arm of Marvel comics, which two decades later with Fantastic Four would properly begin.
Russia exports 20 percent of the global supply of nickel, and they’re a bit of an economic persona non-grata right now, which has led to massive fluctuations in the price of nickel. Over the course of 24 hours, the price of nickel rose 250 percent, and the London Metal Exchange halted trading. This leads to a little bit of numismatic arbitrage: A five-cent nickel coin has a face value of 5 cents, obviously. However, the coin itself is 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel, and the coin has a melt value — that is, the value of the metal if you melted it down — of 8 cents a coin. Indeed, the scrap of nickel loses value the day it passes through the U.S. Mint. At its priciest during the nickel fluctuations last week, at one point a nickel was worth 16 cents.
There are about 25 people whose full-time job is puppet wrangler, an on-set position at the Jim Henson Company that builds, dresses, repairs and fixes puppets. They’re not puppeteers, but the crew who makes them, and they’re trying to unionize. The puppeteers are in SAG-AFTRA, and there are about 150 puppeteers in SAG-AFTRA, but they want the puppet wranglers to be in IATSE, or the union that represents the prop and costume people. The wranglers worry about that, because if they join the prop union then any prop person can handle their puppets. They also face unique difficulties given their profession, such as exposure to toluene, a component of Barge, a standard industrial adhesive that’s critical in making puppets. While toluene exposure is capped by OSHA at 300 parts per million, safety enforcement among the wranglers was said to be lax.
It’s spring break at many universities, and Miami is a madhouse. Miami International Airport saw an average of 153,000 overall travelers per day in March, which is up 13 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels. The airport is expecting to see 2.9 million passengers in March, up 25 percent compared to last year. Last Sunday the 13th saw 166,000 travelers go through MIA, the busiest travel day in the airport’s history. Amid an already strained supply chain, our nation’s hearts go out to the hardworking men and women maintaining our national alcoholic slushy pipeline in this trying time; we salute you.
There’s been new demand for domestic oil, and after years of price fluctuations and Wall Street pressure that drove the oil majors away from drilling in the U.S., most of the big winners of the demand for domestic production are smaller family wildcat drillers. There are 737 active U.S. oil-and-gas rigs in the United States, and 62 percent of them are operated by private companies, up from 49 percent of rigs in 2019. The massive publicly-traded Exxon Mobile and Chevron companies operate 27 drilling rigs in the United States, but the small independents Endeavor and Mewbourne operate 33 rigs combined, and will produce 4 percent of the U.S.’s expected production every day and will singlehandedly account for 18 percent of the country’s growth.
There’s $88 billion in medical bills that appear on and weigh down some 43 million credit reports, which means that many people are facing higher costs of capital and getting declined for loans because of medical bills outside of their control. The three companies that produce credit reports in the United States — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — have announced their intention to remove medical debt that was paid after being referred to collections from the reports. Previously the policy was to keep it on the credit report for up to seven years. Another change will make unpaid medical debts that have been referred to collections not appear on a credit report for up to a year, and they will remove unpaid medical debts of less than $500 from reports.
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