Numlock News: May 30, 2023 • Lighthouses, Sure Thing, Jazz
Numlock News is now five years old!
By Walt Hickey
Welcome back! An exciting note on the newsletter: Numlock News is now five years old. Thanks so much to everyone who has been with us since the very beginning and everyone who joined along the way, it’s a really thrilling milestone.
The Little Mermaid made $117.5 million over the course of the four-day Memorial Day weekend, the fifth-best in the history of the unofficial kickoff to the summer blockbuster season. In a deeply ironic situation, the movie about the mermaid who desperately wants a pair of legs is in serious need of legs, as it cost $250 million to make and opened to a somewhat disappointing $68.1 million in 51 markets, including a rather abyssal $2.5 million in China. The poor, unfortunate souls in the Disney marketing division will need all the help it can get, with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse dropping next week, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts the week after, and The Flash and Pixar’s Elemental coming out the week after that.
The R&B singer Miguel released the single “Sure Thing” off his debut album in 2011, where it would go on to reach No. 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart in May and No. 36 on the overall Hot 100. That’s a pretty good run, and would have been the end of the conversation, if not for the fact that a TikTok trend emerged and shot a slightly sped-up version of the song that hit No. 1 on the Pop Airplay chart, the single longest time between the release of a single and it hitting No. 1 on that particular chart ever. “Sure Thing” has also broken the record for most weeks on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at 78 weeks.
A deal struck by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission put forward by coastal nations and designed to alleviate pressure on the fish has begun to fall apart amid pressure from the European countries that catch a third of the tuna fished in that ocean. Among EU purse seiners, the tuna catch is up from 10,400 tonnes in 1983 to 75,919 tonnes as of 2021, thanks in no small part to devices called drifting fish aggregation devices (dFADs) that draw in hundreds of tuna that can be swept up in a single net. In February, a deal was put forward that would restrict dFADs in Indian Ocean tuna fisheries starting next January, but a third of IOTC delegations have pulled support. When Kenya proposed a motion to advance restrictions on dFADs, the rumor was that the EU threatened to withdraw a $24 million aid deal, prompting a swift withdrawal.
Since the passage of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000, the federal government has sought to unload many of the lighthouses made vestigial by advances in GPS and marine navigation. Since then, about 150 lighthouses have been transferred to new owners, about 80 given away at no cost to agencies, nonprofits or educational organizations willing to maintain them, and about 70 auctioned off for a total $10 million so far. This year, six lighthouses are up for offer, some of which are already maintained by nonprofits that will have an inside track on continuing to do so, while another four are being sold at auction. It is unclear if they include a crotchety old lightman driven slowly insane by Light Madness, or if the buyers will be expected to furnish their own.
Compared to other genres, jazz is not succeeding on streaming services given the overall demand, accounting for just 0.8 percent of all streams last year on streaming. Instead, jazz really over-indexes when it comes to physical albums, which made up 23.8 percent of album-equivalent consumption in 2022 for jazz. Compare that to the 7.4 percent of consumption of physical media meant for pop, the 9.6 percent for classical, and the 0.8 percent for Latin music. Jazz has been a significant winner of the vinyl resurgence, with jazz accounting for fully 6 percent of all vinyl album sales last year.
House Wins Harder
The casinos of Las Vegas made $8.3 billion in gambling revenue last year, up 25 percent compared to pre-pandemic revenue, even though the number of visitors in 2022 was less than the 2019 figure. The casinos pulled this off by soaking the gamblers who actually did show up, adjusting the odds of their games to suck in more of the money sloshing around on tables. Blackjack players lost $1 billion to Strip casinos last year, part of a campaign by the casinos to raise minimum bets — eliminating $15 minimum tables on busy nights, for instance — but also reducing the payouts when 21 is hit from 3:2 to 6:5 at approximately two-thirds of tables, which means less profit for gamblers and more for casinos. This billion-dollar revenue was accomplished even though there are 19 percent fewer tables compared to a decade ago. Even roulette is getting harder, with the casinos adding a third zero slot — a situation in which neither red nor black wins, and therefore the house often will — rather than the more traditional two zeros. Across 278 roulette tables on the Strip, a survey found that there are now 78 triple-zero tables and 111 double-zero tables.
A Man, A Plan, A Canal
A food inspector in India who reportedly dropped his smartphone in a canal behind Kherkatta dam in the state of Chhattisgarh last week has been suspended from his position after he allegedly had the reservoir drained so that he might be able to collect the phone from the bottom. According to videos, approximately 2 million liters of water was pumped from the reservoir, after which the Samsung device was retrieved, inactive though it was. According to critics, the water could have irrigated 1,500 acres of land, while the official counters that it was unusable for irrigation.
Doing the annual anniversary sale again this week, it’s an excellent time to upgrade to a paid membership:
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