Numlock News: May 29, 2019 • Eurovision, Gold, Craft Beer
By Walt Hickey
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The Transportation Security Administration has so perfected the art of the pre-flight shakedown that they’re booking a profit on forgotten change alone. In 2018, the TSA reported that precisely $960,105 was left in its bins and checkpoints at the U.S. airports. The organization — a Department of Homeland Security funded theater troupe that puts on a daily production implying that the only efficient way to defeat terrorism is by an entire society removing their shoes before boarding public transportation — has to inventory and report that forgotten cash down to the penny. This assiduous accounting not only serves as an illustration of the exacting lengths the TSA will go in order to justify their own existence, showing that flyer’s belongings, laptops and genitalia are not the only things being monitored with maximum efficiency. That figure is up considerably since 2012, when TSA collected $531,000 in spare forgotten change on top of the modicum of human dignity extracted from air travelers.
First American Financial Corp exposed 885,000,000 property title records on their janky and poorly-structured website. The exposed data — some 16 years worth of property titles, which include Social Security numbers, wire transaction receipts, tax records and drivers licenses — was put back behind a modest amount of security once the bug was discovered. Basically, you could just change the customer number on file in the URL to, say, a slightly higher number or lower number to see another person’s whole deal.
The annual song contest Eurovision remained the world’s most viewed live music event, drawing 36.7 percent of all the viewing audience in 40 European countries with 182 million people watching the program. This year’s competition was won by the Dutch, scoring their first victory in 44 years, with literally 73.4 percent of the Netherlands tuning in for the final. The enduring success of the 64-year old event has naturally stoked speculation about an American version of the show, as we all know the United States is positively devoid of televised singing competitions.
Vietnam is rising on the world stage given the ongoing trade conflict between the United States and China. However, one weird idiosyncrasy of their financial system certainly stands out: about 95 percent of payments are made with either cash or gold in Vietnam. The $237 billion economy is growing, but with only 31 percent of Vietnamese having bank accounts and approximately 400 tons of gold held by the populace, and readily used for large transactions, the transition to a digital transaction economy is not exactly simple. Some remember the 28.3 percent inflation of just a few years ago, others see the tax advantages of, you know, not paying taxes.
A new survey found that 52 percent of beer drinkers said they wanted to reduce their consumption of alcohol, a statistic that naturally has the booze business a bit jitterey — craft beers in particular. Craft beer popped from 4.9 percent of the beer market in 2010 to 13.2 percent in 2018, and the houses that were built on ultra-hoppy bitter brews are now trying to target a demographic I once believed only existed on Instagram’s of friends from high school, the marathon-running craft beer fans.
Indian garment factories are expanding into Africa, in many ways thanks to duty-free access to the E.U. and U.S. Textile factories that have long dominated in southeast Asia see the appeal of opening up manufacturing in places like Ethiopia and Kenya. A polycot t-shirt will come with a 32 percent import duty when shipped from India to the United States. That same t-shirt is duty free when exported from Africa. Cotton tees have a 16 percent advantage to African exporters, a huge advantage in a business with razor thin margins. At this point India is projected to be a net importer of clothing by 2030.
The median age of an American farmer is 55 years old, and when those farmers leave the game one set of buyers keenly interested in buying up U.S. farmland is international investors. The National Young Farmers Coalition expects two-thirds of farmland will change hands in the next several decades, and Canada would like a word about that if you’re selling. About 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are owned by foreign investors, and that’s only poised to rise.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Crazy/Genius · Scrubbers · Saving the World · Summer Movies · No One Man Should Have All That Power · Film Incentives · Stadiums & Casinos · Late Night · 65 is the new 50 · Scooternomics · Gene Therapy · SESTA/FOSTA · CAPTCHA · New Zealand · Good To Go · California Football · Personality Testing · China’s Corruption Crackdown · Yosemite