Numlock News: October 13, 2020 • Mascots, Minks, The War With Grandpa
By Walt Hickey
Tenet lost its low-hanging perch atop the U.S. domestic box office this weekend to The War With Grandpa, a family-friendly film in which Robert De Niro receives a massive paycheck and also contractually appears onscreen. The film made $3.6 million, good for number one at the cinema this weekend, and an indication of precisely how bleak it’s gotten for theaters just a week after Regal closed all but seven of its locations amid a lack of new, fresh product from the major studios. Honestly, if you’re The War With Grandpa and the second-largest cinema chain in North America sizes you up, takes a look at you, and decides to close for business indefinitely, it’s impossible not to take that personally, I would imagine.
Thanks to the warmest summer on record and ice melting, more ships than ever before are trading along the Northern Sea Route that runs from Alaska to the Baltic Sea. In 2018, 47 vessels made 572 voyages along the route from January to June. This year, over that same period, 71 vessels made 935 sailings. The trip cuts an average 10 days of sailing compared to the standard trip through the Suez Canal, and the Russian government is planning ice-free year-round trips beginning in 2024.
There are 1,232 U.S. high schools with Indigenous Peoples’ team names, according to MascotDB, which includes 411 Indians, 107 Chiefs or Chieftains, and 45 schools that use the ethnic slur that is the former name of the Washington D.C. area NFL football team. Of those 1,232 high school mascots, just 23 are used at tribal high schools operated or funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. While colleges must follow the directives of the NCAA, and NFL franchises at least are somewhat answerable to their fans, there’s no system overseeing the high schools.
Though the overwhelming majority of the attention is on two geriatrics, as of October 9, fully 1,216 candidates have filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2020. They run the gamut from single-issue advocates, to perennial candidates, micro-party contenders, any number of crackpots, rich guys, and the usual hodgepodge of politically interested you’ll find at the open mic portion of a municipal zoning board meeting.
The state of Wisconsin has denied Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn tax subsidies after the electronics giant reneged on promised jobs in a large LCD factory they promised to build that since was scaled back to a much smaller one. Foxconn needed to employ 520 people at the end of 2019 to get the subsidies, and while it claimed to hire 550, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation found only 281 qualified per the deal. Foxconn promised 13,000 jobs, but after sealing the deal revised that to 1,500. This would have been the first of $3 billion in refundable tax credits, and the whole project seems to be in trouble given the lackluster rate of Foxconn’s hiring: though they promised to invest $3.3 billion by the end of 2019, they actually only invested $280 million, and at the end of this year they’re supposed to employ 1,820, and nowhere near that. If they don’t maintain 5,850 employees by 2023, Wisconsin gets to claw back subsidies it awarded before then.
As people redecorate, move, or just settle in for what could be a longer ride than anticipated, secondhand sales of furniture are through the roof, with online marketplaces seeing a surge in action when it comes to flipping beds, moving couches, and hawking dinettes. On Facebook Marketplace, listings for furniture have increased 100 percent since April, and on NextDoor furniture sales were up 28 percent in August 2020, especially stuff from Pottery Barn, Ikea and Ashley HomeStore. If you were in the market for a Billy Bookcase with only mild dust, now’s the moment to go on the hunt, at least before the winter that will test us all.
Diseases can sometimes transmit between species — a fact we learned the hard way on a number of occasions — and that means that the COVID pandemic is having unintended spread amid animals like dogs, cats, lions, tigers and, last but not least, minks raised for fur. This has been impactful in Denmark where 1,500 breeders produce 17 million furs per year that make up 40 percent of global mink production. Danish veterinarians and farmers have begun culling at least 2.5 million minks after reports of the virus taking hold in 63 farms. It’s endangering the entire industry, which depending on your point of view when it comes to fur, may not be the worst thing.
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