Numlock News: October 14, 2019 • Sleepy Hollow, Parasite, Libras
By Walt Hickey
Joker had a really strong second weekend at the box office, making $55 million domestically and amassing a grand total of $543.9 million globally, eating into the audience for Will Smith’s Gemini Man, which made a disappointing $20.5 million. That poor performance makes me want to see it in 4K 120 frames per second 3D even more, because now we know that it’s release pattern is so ridiculous that nothing like it will ever be allowed to happen ever again by a major studio. Gemini Man is functionally live theater at this point. Joker fell just 43 percent week one to week two, one of the lowest drops ever for a movie that (technically) contains a superhero. But the big winner of this weekend was Bong Joon-ho’s new movie Parasite, which had a three theater release but made an average of $125,421 per theater. That’s the highest per-theater haul since La La Land, which you’ll recall won an Oscar for Best Picture, extremely briefly and temporarily.
Containers, cartons, wrappers and packaging account for 30 percent of American trash, roughly 76 million tons annually. American consumers don’t love that, and are coming to the rescue for a paper recyclables industry brought low by China’s choice to stop accepting imports of trash. A ton of recycled paper saves the equivalent of 17 trees, 16,000 gallons of water and 5,500 pounds of carbon dioxide, and Americans are really good at recycling it: recycling collection rates for paper are upwards of 60 percent, way higher than the 30 percent seen in plastics. Amid new consumer demand, companies are transitioning some consumer goods to environmentally superior paper packaging rather than plastic packaging.
Facebook launched its attempt at a virtual currency, Libra, with 27 companies who’d be using or facilitating the spending of the product. Last week the company was dealt a blow when six companies — PayPal, eBay, Stripe, Visa, Mastercard, and Mercado Pago — all dropped out, ahead of the first meeting of The Libra Association which was intended to be held today. This is, to be specific, a meeting of The Libra Association, the electronic payment consortium, not The Association of Libras, a loose collective of people born September 23 - October 22 who purport to be confrontation-averse, diplomatic, harmonious if at times a bit indecisive. That meeting is — I can only assume, using my analytical Virgo nature — still a go for today.
Teenagers, when asked if they’re using tobacco products at school by a Man who is from the Government, may not give a realistic response. This is why two researchers from the University of California, San Francisco collected every bit of tobacco and vape-related waste in the vicinity of 12 public high schools from July 2018 to April 2019. In total they obtained 620 cigarette butts, 172 electronic cigarette detritus, 87 little cigars or cigarillos and 14 pot-related items, basically a secret survey of kids who sucked at D.A.R.E., or more likely kids who were really really great at D.A.R.E. but then high school happened to them. Anyway, almost all the vape related stuff was Juul, and the overwhelming majority was flavored.
Every year, roughly 100,000 tourists visit a town in Westchester County with a population of 10,000 for basically “Colonial Williamsburg, but very very spooky.” In 1996, North Tarrytown voted to stop attempting to hide its history and renamed itself Sleepy Hollow, after the iconic Washington Irving short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” about a school teacher who has a bad time with a permanent resident. Historic Hudson Valley reaps a serious financial haul from the festivities around Sleepy Hollow, with $5.6 million in program service revenue in 2017, much of it from the spooky season. The town now has its eyes on a bigger prize, as Washington Irving also wrote some stuff about Christmas, which as we all know is where the real money is.
Automation’s impact on jobs can at times be seen all at once — layoffs as companies introduce new technology to automate businesses — but a new paper illuminates how lots of the impact is slow but significant. Automation increases the chances that people get laid off and cuts days worked, the impact of which is a five year cumulative wage loss of 11 percent of annual earnings. That long time of evolution is good — more time for people to adapt to new tech as it’s rolled out and obtain skills to move into new work alongside the automation — but it’s also rough in the sense that policymakers can’t seem to react to slow, deliberate changes as effectively as spashy, flashy sudden ones.
This week for the Sunday edition I spoke to my friend Kim Renfro, who wrote The Unofficial Guide to Game of Thrones, out last week. It’s a great book, and for today only it was such a fun interview you can read the full subscriber-only interview public on the web. Check it out!
A 2018 study found that in the retail sector, 80 percent of American hourly retail workers have fluctuating schedules, which is not particularly conducive to having a regularly scheduled family life. The algorithmic shift allocation makes things cheaper for companies at the expense of employee’s predictability. On the other hand, management doesn’t have it easy either: 92 percent of managers reported pulling 50 or more hours of work per week, with a third of them putting in 65 hours or more.
Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile hold 70 percent of the world’s lithium reserves, but none of them actually make any batteries, and none will for a while: no lithium cell factories are set to be built through 2025. A $285 million project in Chile was cancelled in June amid a dip in prices, and the countries are not yet capitalizing on their resources: Australia produces over half the world’s lithium, and China manufactures about 62 percent of the lithium cells.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at email@example.com. Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The very best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.
Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: 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 ·