Numlock News: November 23, 2022 • Bison, Marijuana, Glass Onion
By Walt Hickey
Numlock is off tomorrow and Friday in observation of Thanksgiving and Day After Thanksgiving. Have an excellent weekend!
NASA has three satellites — Terra, Aqua and Aura — launched between 1999 and 2004 that have monitored global climate conditions over a period of time in which those conditions have changed significantly. Right now, they’re slated for decommissioning, and will need to save fuel to eventually crash into Earth in a controlled manner. They cost $85 million a year to run, and several of their capabilities will be replaced by the Earth System Observatory program that will come online in the late 2020s. Some scientists want to see the missions extended, arguing that their unique orbit is important and their instruments are unique and there’s still science to do; for instance, Aqua is the reason that we estimate clouds cover 70 percent of the Earth at a given time, up from the previous estimate of half of Earth.
Since the Religious Corporation Law was instituted in Japan after World War II, only two out of the 180,000 registered religious juridical organizations in the country have been dissolved: Aum Shinrikyo, the doomsday cult that behind the 1995 Tokyo subway attack, and Myokakuji, which was accused of fraud and dissolved in 2002. Right now the Japanese government is weighing action against the powerful Unification Church. Former President Shinzo Abe was assassinated in July by a man who claimed his mother had donated extortionate amounts of money to the church to the point of bankruptcy, and since then there has been constant coverage of the church and its political ties. One Kyodo News survey found 106 of Japan’s 712 lawmakers had a link to the church. Many of those headlines are about the “spiritual sales” fundraising tactics, and the relationship of the church to the ruling LDP, but in November the government launched an official investigation into the church over its donations and a bill that would allow members to demand the return of donations was proposed. Going to be blunt here, it’s rather unconventional that in the months following a high-profile political assassination the primary conclusion of the government is “you know what actually the guy made a couple of valid points,” but there’s a first time for everything.
Following new ballot rules about how corporate directors are elected and the success of a number of proxy fights, such as when the hedge fund Engine No. 1 got three board seats at Exxon Mobil over climate concerns, there’s been a wave of newcomers itching for a fight over board seats. There have been 171 activist campaigns launched as of the end of September, up from 39 percent in the same period of 2021, and a quarter of the campaigns at companies with large market caps are from first-time activist campaigners. Lots of those — about 38 percent — are pushing for mergers or acquisition.
This weekend, per a deal struck with filmmaker Rian Johnson when they acquired the film, streaming service Netflix will release Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery in movie theaters. It’s getting a run in 600 cinemas for a limited run of one week, and then will see release on Netflix proper on December 23. The finances of this are going to be obscured, unfortunately: Netflix hates sharing apples-to-apples data on the success of any of its programming and its first theatrical release is unsurprisingly no different. That said, the projected three-day opening weekend box office puts it somewhere between $6 million and $11 million domestically, making it likely one of the higher-grossing films of the weekend.
New York State has a marijuana problem, namely that the state handed out growing licenses to over 200 farms last spring but has lagged in getting the requisite certifications for recreational legal retail storefronts. The state has insisted it planned to get stores open before the end of the year, but it’s increasingly clear that this will likely be an early 2023 thing. Unfortunately, that means that the Empire State’s legal weed farms are sitting on some 300,000 pounds of marijuana, which given a wholesale value of $2,500 per pound is about $750 million worth of pot that the state is risking basically just rotting away.
A new analysis of the tracking pixel used by Facebook found that major tax filing services like H&R Block, TaxAct and TaxSlayer have the Meta Pixel installed and are transmitting sensitive financial information about tax filers directly to Facebook, according to The Markup. TaxAct has about 3 million users, and the tracking pixel on their site sends information about filing status, adjusted gross income and the size of their refund to Facebook. H&R Block’s Meta Pixel hoovered up information on health savings account usage and tuition grants and expenses and sent it to Facebook, while TaxSlayer sent along the number of dependents.
Bison once again roam the United States, thanks in large part to 82 Native American tribes across the country who maintain 65 herds of some 20,000 bison, part of a trend where tribal organizations can reclaim management of the bison that were instrumental for their ancestors’ societies. The InterTribal Buffalo Council connects tribes and gets bison to those tribes that want bison, and this fall alone they’ve delivered 2,041 bison to 22 tribes across 10 states.
Two amazing Sunday editions that are mostly unlocked for your perusal over the long weekend!
First, I spoke to Pat Garofalo, who writes the Boondoggle newsletter all about corporate subsidies and monopoly power in American government. We talked about how the best predictor of a state doling out corporate tax incentives is a governor up for reelection and what the fallout of the 2022 midterms was for these issues. Pat can be found on Twitter at @Pat_Garofalo. Read that interview here and check out Boondoggle.
This Sunday I spoke to Alison Griswold who wrote Instant delivery curse and The gig economy is a bust in the public markets for Oversharing . We spoke about the bubble popping in instant delivery, the enormous amount of red ink across all the publicly traded sharing economy companies, Bird’s troubles amid the broader scooter crisis, and the very real possibility that Ali’s beat is becomes a smoking crater. Ali can be found at Oversharing and on Twitter.
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