Numlock News: May 13, 2020 • AP, MLB, 1080
By Walt Hickey
No Longer Wait For It
In February, Lin Manuel Miranda announced that Disney had picked up the global rights to a film of the hit Broadway show Hamilton for $75 million, what is believed to be the largest amount of money ever spent for a finished film. The intention was to release the film theatrically on October 15, 2021, but then some stuff happened that I don’t really want to get into, and now the film will be released July 3 on Disney+, which is the closest thing we’re going to get to a huge Independence Day weekend movie release. The hotly-awaited film was compiled from three performances of the musical, which won 11 Tony Awards, a Pulitzer for Drama, and has grossed $636 million since opening in 2015. It will have scarce competition that weekend, as the only film planning to brave the proper box office on July 1 is Unhinged, which asks the question, “is it literally possible to kill someone with a bad Russell Crowe movie?”
Facebook agreed to pay $52 million to the third-party moderators hired to police the site for graphic, disturbing and illegal content who sustained mental health issues in the course of working on the website. Every one of the 11,250 covered moderators will receive $1,000 and will be eligible to receive additional compensation up to $6,000 in the event of a PTSD diagnosis or any related condition, and up to $50,000 in damages if they submit evidence of other injuries. The moderators labored for as little as $28,800 per year, but were exposed to the worst of the worst when it came to what people posted on the social media site.
A Brazilian 11-year-old has become the first person to pull off a 1080 — three complete turns — on a vertical ramp, shattering a record. The 1080 had been pulled off once before, but on a mega-ramp that helps increase speed. The triple spin comes more than 20 years after Tony Hawk became renowned for completing the first 900, a feat that Gui Khury, the 1080 Brazilian phenom, completed at age eight. As someone who obtained most of his knowledge of extreme sports from Rocket Power, in my experience, this may be the raddest dude who ever lived and I fear and respect his deeply chaotic competence.
There are 3.4 million students registered to take Advanced Placement exams between May 11 and May 22, and they are having a rough go of it. On one hand, the exams have been reduced from their traditional three-hour lengths down to breezier 45 minutes, and have been removed from the classroom where people got really agitated about the use or even presence of electronic devices and instead are being held, well, online. It’s roughest for those who lack access to amenities typically provided by the school, such as reliable Wi-Fi. In some cases students are opting to take the exam in the parking lots of their high schools.
The market for electronics repair is booming right now, with people who are unable to get a hold of new tech thanks to supply chain problems — or eager to get a little more life out of their existing tech, or looking to buy used on the cheap — turning to refurbished devices and the number of people who fix them. In April, 30 percent of customers to Back Market, a reseller of electronics, said their purchase was due to the pandemic, half of whom were buying for work and 27 percent of whom were buying for home learning for kids. Data from Counterpoint Research has first quarter sales of new smartphones down 21 percent compared to last year while sales of used smartphones are up 28 percent.
The meat business will likely be forever changed as a result of what the pandemic revealed about their working conditions and ability to function during times of labor and supply chain disruption. Chicken prices may no longer be sustainable at current levels given the reduction in density and worker protections that are now needed, and prices could go up 25 to 30 percent. All told, 73 percent of American beef processing is handled by just four companies — JBS, Tyson, Cargill and Leucadia — and 61 percent of chicken production is handled by just five companies, with Tyson alone encompassing 21 percent of the market. One outcome may be the production and sale of more whole chickens, as the process of dressing the bird into legs, breasts and thighs is labor-intensive. Does anyone know if it’s possible to invest in stock of that one YouTube video I like of Jacques Pepin demonstrating how to properly de-bone a bird because I would like to buy some.
The owners of Major League Baseball pitched their proposal to the players about how to carry out the 2020 MLB season, but they got greedy and it’s fallen completely flat. The gist would be an 82-game season — down from 162 — a 14-team post-season (to get that national television dollars) and keeping the competition predominantly regional. Money is tight: an estimated 40 percent of revenue comes from tickets, concessions, and gate-related income. Normally half of that is pooled and shared, but none of it is happening in 2020. To get the desired start time in July, they’ll need to hammer the details out within two and a half weeks, and the key point of the proposal — the 50-50 revenue split — is a strike out. The players as a union have fought a salary cap linked to game revenues tooth and nail for decades. The previous agreement in March had prorated salaries — 82 games is 50.6 percent of 162 games, so they’d get 50.6 percent of their agreed salary — but a revenue split externalizes the risk, from the owners to the labor, of the possibility that the postseason will get scrubbed or the teams will lose money playing to empty stadiums. The players simply don’t want to risk their health with the knowledge their livelihood is up for negotiation mid-season.
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