Numlock News: October 19, 2021 • Holiday Shopping, Obscenities, Kids Television
By Walt Hickey
The latest tracking poll from mid-October has about 18 percent of Americans half or more done on holiday shopping, with another 21 percent having accomplished more than zero but less than half of their planned holiday buys. Overall, 50 percent said they hadn’t started their shopping for the holidays yet, down 11 percentage points from the last week of September. Normally this isn’t an issue — it’s still spooky season dang it, and you can take my pumpkin spice latte from my chilly, dry hands — but due to the whole “fundamental collapse of the global supply chain” thing, readers are strongly encouraged to get the lead out because it’s bad out there even now. Already, among the adults who said they had started shopping for the holidays, 51 percent reported an item they wanted was out of stock in-store, and 49 percent reported an item was backordered or would be delayed.
This week F1 racing comes to Texas, and it’s returning to a significantly larger audience than the sport enjoyed a few years ago. The size of the American fanbase for the European motorsport is up 40 percent since 2018 and estimated to be 50 million people. The telecasts are up 40 percent on ESPN compared to 2019, fueled by better name recognition among Americans who have been introduced to the sport through reality shows like Drive To Survive on Netflix.
Maine is home to about 1.3 million residents, and Maine’s roads have around 121,000 vehicles with vanity license plates. Most states have some restrictions on what you can put on a license plate, with the understanding that perhaps the framers of the First Amendment did not consider the possibility of cars, or licenses for those cars, or plates identifying the licensing for those cars, or the opportunity to use the plates identifying the licensing for those cars as a form or speech, or the decision that some people would make to use that speech to tell other drivers “F— YOU.” I disagree — the framers knew New Jersey was going to be a member of the union and should have considered the possibility of such obscenity — but nevertheless in 2015, Maine dropped its review process for vanity license plates and it’s gotten a bit bad. A new law entered into effect Monday that bans obscenities, and an estimated 400 Maine license plates will likely have to be recalled.
Battle of Lake Changjin
Last weekend The Battle of Lake Changjin made another $73 million, which brings its total box office to $767.8 million. It’s now the third-highest grossing film in China’s all-time box office charts, and the ticket app Maoyan forecasts Battle will likely beat comedy Hi, Mom and finish with around $843 million, which would put it at number two of all time behind Wolf Warrior 2. Made on a production budget of $200 million and on track to be the highest-grossing film worldwide of 2021, the movie is about Chinese soldiers fighting United Nations and U.S. forces during the Korean War, and has amassed a somewhat expected $0 in box office receipts outside of China.
The company that owns kids television show CoComelon is considering selling or going public. Interest has risen since Netflix bought three seasons of a spinoff of the show, and the company is looking for something in the ballpark of $3 billion. There’s also interest in an initial public offering, which may be riskier but more lucrative. Demand for kids TV is up 58 percent since the start of 2020, and unlike previous kid entertainment IPOs, such as the much ballyhooed $ITSY, $BTSY or $SPDR, which seemed poised to rocket up the water spout only to later falter, there are no storm clouds on the horizon here. The company will generate $100 million in profits this year through licensing, ads and merch, and is expected to double profits to $200 million next year as their global expansion continues.
As of 2017, Chinese company Hikvision controlled 12 percent of the North American market for security cameras, with the latest available data putting the number of Hikvision devices at 5 million, 750,000 of which are in the United States. Even if you don’t have a Hikvision camera, it might actually be a Hikvision camera, as over 90 surveillance industry brands just relabel the cameras with their own logos. In 2019, Congress — worried about the fact that the company is funded and subsidized by the Chinese government — ordered federal agencies to remove all Hikvision cameras, but the government’s had some trouble ensuring they found them all. Every day, Hikvision can pump out 260,000 cameras, which is about two-thirds of the number of new humans born every day on the planet.
The chemical origins of meth in the United States have fundamentally shifted, from an ephedrine-derived version that had remained the primary formulation of meth to a new, industrially-produced version derived not from ephedrine but from phenyl-2-propanone, or P2P, a common industrial precursor. While prior to 2006 virtually all meth in the U.S. was derived from ephedrine, by 2012, 96 percent of meth samples tested by the DEA were P2P method, mostly made in an industrial setting in Mexico. As a result of the unconstrained supply, the price of a pound of meth fell to $1,000 on U.S. streets, about 90 percent lower than prices a decade ago. This effect has flooded streets with cheap P2P meth, and one result has been faster and more exacerbated mental health issues that result from meth use. That chemical shift, in turn, has fueled homelessness and strained social services.
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