Numlock News: October 31, 2023 • Vegas, Cher, Dinosaur Extinction
By Walt Hickey
Thanks to everyone for a successful launch week, and thanks to all the people who have started leaving a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble if you liked my book! The folks who have tagged me on social media that they got their copy have absolutely made my week. Thanks for spreading the word!
The Oakland A’s are trying to get the state of Nevada to pay out $380 million to develop a ballpark for them in Las Vegas, but the state’s education association is aiming to collect 102,000 signatures to get that on a ballot measure, as they argue the money is better spent in schools rather than baseball. Now, this is the A’s we’re talking about here, the very originators of “Moneyball,” and from that point of view I think I see what’s happening. The state’s trying to deal with the fact that the Britney Spears Piece of Me residency ended, and they need something new to attract guests to Vegas, so they’re trying to replace Britney. I’m here to tell you they can’t. Vegas can’t replace Britney. But what we can do is recreate her value in the aggregate. How many tickets was Spears responsible for in her last season, 225,000? That’s the number we gotta hit. We need three on-stage performers whose average weekly rooms (AWR) is 1,442. Our first guy is John Mulaney. Now I know what you’re thinking, he’s got his problems on the stage, not to mention his problems off the stage, but his AWR is all we’re looking at now and he fills rooms an awful lot for a guy who doesn’t cost $380 million a year. Next up: Billy Joel. Sure, he’s toward the end of his career, but Dolan is so obsessed with his Sphere he’d eat half his contract to get rid of him. And what does he do? He fills up rooms. The last guy is J.D. and the Straight Shot. Who, you ask? Sounds like a Vegas residency already. But you know what? He can fill up rooms.
Happy Hallowe—[smashed in face with candy cane]
Billboard just dropped its first edition of the Top Holiday Albums chart of this holiday, the seasonal weekly tally of the newest holiday albums to grace the nation’s airwaves. In the week ending October 26 — yes, October 26 — the top of the albums chart was Cher’s Christmas, the first studio holiday album for the artist and one that has a vinyl LP dropping in mid-November. Cher made it to the top of the heap by selling 20,000 albums, and logging about 1,000 streaming-equivalent albums online, one of which corresponds to 3,750 ad-supported streams. More interestingly for Cher, she did make the Billboard 200 chart with Christmas, which means she is the fourth act and only second woman to get a top-40 charting album in the 1960s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s, ‘10s and ‘20s, following Bob Dylan, Barbra Streisand and The Rolling Stones. Nevertheless, it will be quite jarring when, somewhere out there on seasonal radio, “The Monster Mash” immediately segues into “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home.)”
Dippin’ Dots sales are just shy of $30 million per quarter according to owner J&J Snack Foods, though the 35-year-old brand is yet to make good on its onetime promise that it is the ice cream of the future. In fact, they gave up on that entirely, and now merely say that consumers of their deep-frozen iced treat will be able to “taste the fun,” considerably less ambitious but nevertheless respectable. That said, competition looms: Dippin’ Dots archrival Mini Melts has been muscling into zoos, aquariums, Dave and Busters and more, and are logging 35 percent annual growth, even though they’re behind the incumbent with only around $50 million in annual sales. That said, heavy is the head that wears the flash-frozen crown, and Dippin’ Dots dares to declare its domain in movie theaters, convenience stores and grocery stores.
An analysis of responses from 37,000 New Yorkers asked to draw the contours of different neighborhoods found that New York City can claim over 350 distinct neighborhoods, many of which intersect, overlap and consume one another. Neighborhoods shift and evolve and die over time, and some blocks in the city can claim to be part of five different neighborhoods. The city is, according to the analysis, home to no fewer than three different Chinatowns. Some borders are abrupt (Triangle Below Canal is a rather indisputable frontier for Tribeca), others are blurry (as we all know East Williamsburg was made up by the real estate industry so they can charge schmucks extra to live in Bushwick), while others are simply Robert Moses’ fault, like every one along the BQE.
A new study published in Nature Geoscience sought to figure out what precisely happened after the asteroid hit Earth and began the process that wiped out the dinosaurs, and found that micrometer-sized dust lingered in the atmosphere for up to 15 years, which had massive effects on global temperatures. According to the study, all photosynthetic activity on Earth may have stopped entirely within two weeks of the strike and may not have resumed in land-dwelling plants for another 620 days after the impact, plenty long enough to wipe out the dinosaurs that survived the initial blast. That 15 years of fine dust led the average global surface temperature to fall by up to 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is a series of 15 locks between Montreal and Lake Erie, 13 of which are operated by the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the other two of which are operated by their American counterpart in the Department of Transportation. For eight days, the union for the workers that operate the locks that separate the Atlantic Ocean from the Great Lakes has been on strike, a labor action that came to a tentative end on Sunday. Now, the 130 or so ships that have been stranded in line will advance and move swiftly through the lock system.
In 1996, there were about 8,000 companies listed on U.S. stock markets, and despite the economy growing by $20 trillion since then there are now fewer than 4,000 public companies on U.S. exchanges. There are a lot of reasons for the decline of the publicly-traded corporation, consolidation among them, but the ascent of private equity has been the real story here. As of 2000, private equity firms managed 4 percent of all corporate equity in the U.S., a level that today stands at around 20 percent. It’s also meant fewer companies even bother to brave public markets in the first place: From 1980 to 2000, an average of 310 companies went public every year, which from 2001 to 2022 fell to 118 companies per year.
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