Numlock News: November 22, 2019 • Tesla, Pokemon, Avocados
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Pickup trucks are a very attractive vehicle class for automobile manufacturers. While large trucks accounted for just 36 percent of Ford’s North American sales last year, they were responsible for 70 percent of the profit. The price is simply much better: the average new vehicle sold in October in the U.S. went for $37,886, but the average full-size pickup went for $50,496. That’s higher than entry-level luxury sedans. All that math is one reason that Tesla has announced plans for an (absurd looking) electric pickup truck. There are some concerns besides Tesla’s chassis looking like a Starship Troopers prop: pickup truck drivers have high brand loyalty, with 70 percent of Ford truck buyers going back to Ford for their next truck, much higher than the 51 percent of Ford car buyers who return.
Bumble Bee Foods has filed for bankruptcy and agreed to sell its assets to a Taiwanese company for $925 million. The company has had financial difficulties, many related to a guilty plea to conspiracy to fix prices that landed them with a $25 million criminal fine, $17 million of which is still outstanding. Tack on three consumer and retailer class-action suits, plus eight other legal claims from grocers and you can see why it’s better down where it’s wetter. Bumble Bee has 41 percent of the market share for albacore and 13 percent of the light meat tuna sales market, moving $933 million worth of fish last year.
Gotta Catch Em All
Nintendo announced that it sold 6 million units worldwide during the launch of Pokémon Sword and Shield, but come on tell us which version did better. That’s a record launch for the Switch and it would be nice to have some clarity on sales for the version, so we can know which is for the older, better child (You know, like Red, Gold, Sapphire, Diamond, Black, and X were the inherently better versions), and which version is better left for the younger or even middle sibling. In the United States, 2 million copies were moved in the first two days, and let’s be honest it’s probably more like 1.1 million copies of one game and 0.9 million copies of the other game were sold, so let’s get a little transparency here. The holidays are just around the corner.
From 2001 to 2018, the average annual consumption of avocados in the United States rose from two pounds per person to 7.5 pounds. The U.S. had until 1997 banned avocados from Mexico due to pest concerns, but today exports of Michoacan avocados has boomed to $2.4 billion. The good news is this has revitalized the economy of the agricultural region and promised riches for the entrepreneurs and small business owners who grow those avocados. The bad news is that violent cartels would like those riches and are enacting a brutal campaign of bloodshed and clear-cutting to grow avocados. Indeed, the trade is financing a gang war that’s become so severe the USDA pulled inspectors for their safety.
Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution
Just 6 percent of working musicians consistently wear hearing protection, and that’s a problem. Tinnitus is a problem not just for a small legion of rockers, but even classical musicians and symphony players can suffer on-the-job injuries related to hearing loss. In the U.K., the limit for occupational noise is an average 85 decibels for an eight-hour shift, with the amount of time reduced by half per each additional increase of three decibels. That means someone can take 88 decibels for four hours, 91 decibels for two hours and 94 decibels for one. An amplified concert easily exceeds 100 decibels, and given that most sets are longer than 15 minutes that’s got serious damage potential.
It’s never been a better time to be a Washington, D.C. sports fan, with exactly one exception. The same poll conducted in both 2010 and 2019 found that a number of different franchises in the city, with an exception, are all seeing boosts in popularity. In 2010, just 7 percent of D.C. residents surveyed said the Washington Nationals were their favorite team, a figure which rose to 28 percent in 2019 following that breathtaking World Series win. Just 6 percent of Washington fans said the Capitals were their top team in 2010, but that’s now up to 10 percent. Same goes for the Mystics (up from 2 percent to 8 percent) and D.C. United, who were the top team for just 1 percent of District residents in 2010 but now are the favorite of 6 percent. The Wizards notched a mild decline from 13 percent to 8 percent, but that’s okay. The Washington Redskins, once the favorite team of 34 percent of Washingtonians, has since crashed to a measly 13 percent.
The World Mosquito Project has been getting back at the bugs by infecting them with the bacteria Wolbachia. It regrettably doesn’t kill them, but it does get passed down through future generations and has the neat side effect of blocking Aedes aegypti from transmitting diseases called arboviruses. That’s a gnarly bunch of tropical illnesses that includes dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika. In the Americas there’s been 2 million cases of dengue in Brazil alone. Indonesia has been the site of a test rollout of the Wolbachia infected mosquitoes. In a community with the treated mosquitoes, there was a 75 percent reduction in dengue cases over the past two and a half years, and in a laboratory the bacteria completely stops the dengue transmission.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Secondhand · Biometrics · Voting Machines · 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 ·