Numlock News: November 10, 2023 • Blowout, Electric Poles, Imperial
By Walt Hickey
The book is out!
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has ordered Citi to pay fines and redress of $25.9 million after the agency said they intentionally discriminated against Armenian American people who were applying for a credit card. According to the CFPB, from 2015 to 2021 in the Glendale, California, area — home to 15 percent of the Armenian American population — the bank specifically screened last names that ended in “-ian” and “-yan.” Denying people credit because of their ancestry is a huge issue, and Citi will have to pay a $24.5 million fine and $1.4 million in compensation to affected consumers.
A new analysis of the top 100 bestselling musical acts found that the median age at which they released their bestselling album was age 29, with 52 of the 100 acts releasing their bestseller before the age of 30. This has led me to the distressing and disappointing conclusion that perhaps my chances of becoming a multi-platinum recording sensation despite barely knowing any actual musical instrumentation are, at the very least, diminishing somewhat. Of every number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 from 1958 to 2020, 95 percent of those were by artists under the age of 30. All hope is not lost: 61 of the 100 artists released their final platinum album after the age of 40.
Several infrastructure investments are being slated toward improving or expanding electrical poles in the United States, including upgrading the 120 million wood poles currently standing in the U.S. Increasingly popular is the Class 2 pole, a 45-foot-tall electric pole, significantly thicker than the classic 40-foot Class 4 pole. One issue is that Class 4 poles are simply how trees grow, and the demand for Class 2 poles is presenting supply issues because not enough trees grow that way. Heightened demand for the lumber has sent the stocks of the two companies that supply the bulk of the U.S. poles shooting upwards, with Kooper’s stock up 38 percent and Stella-Jones stock up 91 percent over the past year thanks to the demand for more electrical grid infrastructure.
In the final hours of the 2023 legislative session, West Virginia’s legislature made it easier for students to transfer to new schools and participate in sports immediately. It’s led to 432 students transferring for fall sports alone, as well as the development of controversial super-teams in high school athletics. This is causing problems when it comes to the strength of competition. A blowout game happens in a football game where a 35-point lead is obtained, and a running clock mercy rule is triggered in the fourth quarter. In 2009, 24 percent of games ended with a margin of 35 points or more. As of 2023, that has spiked to 45 percent of all games played this season. Indeed, the number of games with a 70-point margin has jumped from four in 2021 and zero in 2022 to 13 this year, another sign that a few schools who have managed to recruit their way into a juggernaut have been steamrolling the other teams that came by their squads honestly.
A new survey found that 92 percent of Americans leave a tip when eating at a restaurant where there are servers, 78 percent tip the person who gave them a haircut, 76 percent tip their delivery driver and 70 percent tip their bartenders. After this, it gets contentious. Just 61 percent of people always or often tip their taxi or rideshare driver, just 25 percent of people buying coffee and 12 percent tip at fast casual restaurants where there are no servers. Perhaps most surprisingly, 57 percent of adults said they tipped 15 percent or less at a sit-down restaurant.
A new paper published in Issues in Accounting Education analyzed how students in an intermediate accounting course used Chegg, a publicly-traded corporation where the key product on offer is answers to tests and homework. The researchers found that in the 2020 remote semester, 13 percent of students used Chegg during the final exam, and during the summer semester about a quarter of the class used Chegg during an exam. The issue comes down to a service offered by Chegg where a student can submit a question and get an answer in real time during a live exam. As of 2022, online courses were 46 percent of all higher ed courses, up from a third of courses pre-pandemic.
A new analysis of 20 extended families in a California farming area of the Imperial Valley found that the farms owned by this group of families consume a vast amount of the water of the Colorado River, mostly to grow hay for cows. The family that uses the most of it across five family members’ farming operations used 260,000 acre-feet of water in 2022, which is literally 3 percent of the entire flow of the Colorado River in the Lower Basin, all for one family that mostly grows hay. By comparison, the entirety of Southern Nevada, including 2 million people in Las Vegas, used just 220,000 acre-feet that year. The 20 farming families used 387 billion gallons of water in 2022, about a seventh of the entire Colorado River. Most of that goes not to fruit or vegetables, but to animal feed.
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