Numlock News: October 10, 2018
By Walt Hickey
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The film Venom blew past expectations this past weekend at the box office, and the latest reports indicate that its $80 million opening — it was forecasted to make $55 million to at most $70 million — came due to a diverse group of fans showing up for the film. Caucasian moviegoers made up 38 percent of Venom ticket buyers, with disproportionately high sales from Hispanic (26 percent), African American (18 percent), Asian (11 percent) and other (6 percent) moviegoers. Compare that to, say, Ant-Man and the Wasp, where 53 percent of the opening weekend box office was white, 19 percent Hispanic, 15 percent African-American and 8 percent Asian.
A survey of Americans found that 22 percent of adults have their dream job, which is honestly way higher than I would have expected. Not shockingly, seniors who remain working are way more content in their employment situation than the younger crowd, with 46 percent of working seniors saying they have their dream job compared to 12 percent of those 18 to 34. That, or millennial ambitions are still held back by the fact that Pokemon Gym Leader, Defense Against The Dark Arts Professor and Dinosaur Supervisor are not yet viable career options.
$12.2 billion of the $20 billion worth of agricultural products the U.S. exported to China last year was soybeans. This staggering number is largely because China buys two-thirds of the world’s supply for cooking oil and relies on soy protein to feed its 700 million pigs. An ongoing trade dispute has prompted soybean tariffs, and farmers — particularly in the Dakotas, where agriculture isn’t as diversified as it is in the Midwest — are feeling the pain, as the soybean futures have fallen 17 percent since the tariffs were rolled out. I feel for everyone affected, from the farmers to the partially hydrogenated soybean oil drillers, which I assume is a job.
A quick plug for a friend: I don't try to cover the big day-to-day U.S. politics in Numlock, but my friend Judd Legum has a wonderful newsletter called Popular Information that does. Check it out at Popular.info.
A rare political Instagram post from popular singer and snake emoji Taylor Swift was linked to a surge in voter registration on Vote.org. It’s not entirely clear how much of the impact was directly related to the post compared to typical deadline traffic to the site, but of the 240,000 people who registered on the platform in the 48 hours following the post, 102,000 of them were people aged 18 to 29. This indicates that Swift may have had a specific impact as that traffic was over 10 times as intense as it typically is.
A new report from the Basel Institute on Governance indicates that 83 countries — about two-thirds of those in the index — are classified as having a significant risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. Over 40 percent of the countries studied have a higher score and are more prone to corruption than they were in 2017. The highest-risk countries are Tajikistan, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Laos and Guinea-Bissau.
Westmoreland Coal Co. has filed for Chapter 11 protection, making it the fourth major coal company after Peabody Energy, Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources to file for bankruptcy protection. One of the oldest coal companies in the U.S., Westmoreland has $770 million in assets and $1.4 billion in debt. A whole lot of cheap natural gas, plus a push to move to more sustainable power sources — there are 0 new coal plants being built in the U.S., and both China and India have canceled projects in pursuit of sustainable energy practices — mean tough times for the coal business.
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Amazon has scored a lucrative new batch of contracts with SAP and Symantec worth $500 million each over 5 years. Last year, Amazon Web Services dominated the market with $17.5 billion in sales of an estimated $30 billion market. By 2021, the market for cloud computing is estimated to be worth $83.5 billion. The main trend with computers over the entire lifespan of AWS has been people willing to pay inordinate amounts of money to make other people deal with computers so they don’t have to.
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