Numlock News: November 14, 2019 • Dealbreakers, Bears, Jimmy Fallon,
By Walt Hickey
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Over the past decade damage stemming from hailstorms has cost an average $10 billion annually, and traditional insurance companies are constantly trying to find ways to protect against ice balls hurled from the heavens at property like buildings and crops. The main areas where hail does the most damage are “hail alley” from Colorado to Texas. Last year was a forgiving year — just 4,610 large hailstorms where stones were at least an inch in diameter — but the previous year saw 6,045 such storms. Insurance policies against hail damage are pricey and getting pricier: a Cadillac dealership in Denver had been paying $160,000 to insure $20 million of merchandise on the lot, which this year rose to $600,000.
Subway, which is the largest restaurant chain on the planet, saw its U.S. store figure fall by 1,110 last year after consecutive declines of 359 stores by 2016 and 866 stores as of 2017. At the end of 2018, there were 24,798 Subway stores, which is not exactly “endangered species” status, but is nevertheless way down from the 27,103 shops at the end of 2015. It’s tough out there to be a Subway franchise: the company is pushing costly remodeling costs, the menu is changing to reflect the hot new trend of people wanting non-terrible food, and the company is in damage control with its mom-and-pop franchisees to try to stem the closures. The good news is that in renovated stores with new designs, Subway saw an 8 percent pop in foot traffic — 15 percent in stores they relocated — which explains why corporate is putting up $100 million to get their franchisees to step on the gas.
With the new season of late night TV coming in, ratings have taken a dip across the board, but no more than among the audience for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which is down 17 percent among total viewers compared to 5 percent down for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and 1 percent for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. That latter show has been crushing the once-supreme Fallon, hauling in 3.44 million viewers on average from September 23 to November 1. Colbert is handily defeating The Tonight Show, which hauled in an average 1.92 million, which is even just shy of Kimmel’s 1.93 million.
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North Carolina has seen its cities and suburbs expand into once-rural areas, driving increased encounters with bears. The population of black bears rose from about 1,000 in the Asheville vicinity to 4,000 now. The Asheville metro area — which has grown 40 percent in the past 20 years — in particular represented around 58 percent of human-bear interactions. This time of year can be particularly troublesome for human-bear relations as the bears are looking to chomp down on 20,000 calories per day to prep for hibernation, while the humans also probably have stuff to do as well. In 1998 there were 192 black bear complaints in North Carolina, but by 2016 that had steadily risen to 583. Complaints about black bears popped to 1,167 in 2017, in part thanks to a new toll-free hotline created to better handle all those complaints.
Figuring out how to crack the algorithm of dating websites can give a better look at what people, in fact, desire from their partners, but more to the point what they actually care about. In one study, students were asked to list dealbreakers in a potential partner. Later in the semester, they participated in a dating program and, when they had a favorite selected, the researchers then revealed that person had two of those dealbreakers. Nevertheless, 74 percent of participants who thought a genuine date was in the cards still wanted to go on a date. Among people who knew it was a hypothetical, even still 40 percent would look past those flaws. It turns out people have standards the same way that television networks do: as long as the rating is high, you can probably stomach the inevitable costs and likely headache. Another analysis of eHarmony data found that people were less bothered by drinking and smoking than they might predict. The moral? I have no idea, self-improvement is useless and there are no romantic consequences for moral failures? That can’t be right.
Go For It
Through the first nine weeks of the NFL season, teams have attempted to make a play on 4th down and two yards 35 percent of the time, and have gone for a play 53 percent of the time on 4th-and-one. Historically, those teams would have sent out the punter and gave the ball away, but even the risk-averse NFL cannot overcome the bona fide can’t-be-ignored mathematical benefit of taking the risk and making an attempt. Now it’s nearly commonplace, but the trend’s been gradual: in the 2018 season, teams went on 4th-and-two just 24 percent of the time, and 16 years ago just 16 percent of the time.
Last year sales at traditional supermarkets fell 1.7 percent compared with the previous year, going instead to wholesalers, supercenters and dollar stores. About 0.9 percent of the marketshare in food sales shifted away from traditional grocers to other competitors, and that doesn’t look like it will change: last year the number of grocery stores fell 1.3 percent, to less than 25,000, a paltry number on par with the likes of Subway. The number of supermarkets in the U.S. is projected to decline by 6 percent over the next five years. Some regional brands — H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Kroger, Wegmans and Publix — have managed to stake out a brand by paying workers better and emphasizing customer service. The good news for them is that 95 percent of Americans still buy groceries in-person. The bad news is that major national supercenters and tech companies are gunning for them.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Open Borders · WrestleMania · Game of Thrones · Concussion Snake Oil · Skyglow · Juul · Chris Ingraham · Invasive Species · The Rat Spill · The Sterling Affairs · Snakebites · Bees · Deep Fakes · Artificial Intelligence · Marijuana · Mussels ·