Numlock News: October 2, 2023 • Peanuts, Panama, Paw Patrol
By Walt Hickey
We’re now just three weeks away from my book release! If you haven’t already, get in a preorder today. Preorders are absolutely critical to getting books into stores and on shelves, and your support by buying a preorder right now would be so, so helpful.
This week a new malaria vaccine called R21 appears poised to get WHO approval, making it the second such vaccine approved for use against malaria following the introduction of RTS,S (Mosquirix) in 2021. That vaccine has already made its way to 1.8 million children with another 18 million doses available by 2025, but that’s only 10 percent of what will be needed, so the new vaccine is a massive boon to the malaria inoculation effort. About 40 million kids are born into malaria-affected areas every year, and the Serum Institutes of India — one of the largest makers of vaccines in the world — can crank out 100 million doses of R21 a year at less than $5 per dose, about half the price of RTS,S.
American trade groups representing the peanut industry have attempted to develop inroads into Japan by targeting the vibrant baseball fandom in the country, trying to make peanuts into the kind of institutional snack enjoyed at ball games just like peanuts are in the United States. While Japan imported 20,171 metric tons of peanut products from the U.S. worth $35.6 million in 2022, there have been some impediments in getting Japanese baseball fans to make the switch to peanuts. One part is that the food at ballparks now — crispy fried chicken, edamame, fried noodles — sounds really tasty already, but another big thing is that the American social custom of dropping empty peanut shells on the ground somewhat directly countermands Japan's social scorn for litterers.
Let’s Paws Here And Get To The Bottom Of This
In what’s some of the best news for family films in quite some time, Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie made $23 million domestically and a further $23.1 million overseas for a grand total of a $46.1 million opening, which is excellent for a movie that cost $30 million to produce. Understandably, parents and kids made up 90 percent of the audience in North America. I do think that number is perhaps worth a brief consideration, as it would imply that 10 percent of the people who saw the Paw Patrol movie in a cinema this weekend were not, in fact, parents or their children, merely cinéastes swayed into seats by the promise of a group of dogs attempting to solve a crime.
The U.S. Army has missed its recruiting targets for the past several years, coming up 15,000 soldiers short last year and currently on a glide path to coming in 10,000 short this year. The main issue is economic, as the fundamentals of the economy are pretty good right now for young people who would like a job with decent benefits, but also a bit logistical as the pandemic prevented recruiters from hanging out in high schools for a few years. The Army is evolving its pitch, and the people who are entering the military are changing as well. Right now 16 percent of the Army is female and rising, and women who apply on average actually tend to be higher performers when it comes to testing and having the clean rap sheet the Army prefers.
Whining about Wine
Wine consumption is down, and it's causing no small amount of consternation within a wine business that is struggling to evolve along with the tastes of a new generation of drinkers that prefers alcohol that isn't from grapes. That said, it's impacting the biggest players — "The Big Seven," which today includes E. & J. Gallo Winery, The Wine Group, Constellation, Trinchero, Delicato, Treasury Wine Estates and Bronco — most of all, while the smaller players in the margins are actually bearing the decline of wine pretty well. In 2012, the biggest seven companies in wine accounted for 78 percent of wine sent from the state of California to stores and restaurants, and 74 percent of the wine sold in grocery and drug stores. Today, those numbers are down to 66 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
Progressive insurance is rebalancing its exposure in the state of Florida, and will not renew 47,000 DP-3 policies and 53,000 high-risk homeowner's policies in the state. DP-3 policies tend to cover vacation homes and properties that are not a primary residence. Progressive plans to transfer the policies to Loggerhead Insurance in a deal that will affect 100,000 policyholders. Multiple insurers are winding down parts of their business in Florida as an insurance crisis hits the state, which has high exposure to natural disasters and a ruthless roofing scam industry that has made it difficult for insurers to operate there. This has driven many homeowners to the state-backed insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp, which now has 1.3 million policies, up from 500,000 as of July 2020.
Ongoing droughts in Panama have forced the Panama Canal Authority to reduce the number of daily traversals of the waterway from 32 ships per day in August to 31 ships, well under the typical 36 to 38 ships that can traverse the canal under normal conditions. This means that just nine ships of the NeoPanamax size and 22 ships of the older Panamax size can make the crossing. Each crossing requires large amounts of freshwater from Gatun Lake to run through the lock system and then eventually into one of the two oceans on either side of the canal, and a spell of hot and dry weather has sent Gatun Lake down to troubling levels.
If you haven’t yet, today is the best day to order You Are What You Watch! All preorders are good preorders, and thanks so much to all the folks who have supported me by preordering already.
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