Numlock News: October 5, 2022 • Barbarian, Pumpkins, Chess
By Walt Hickey
A sleeper hit of the fall has been Barbarian, the twisty R-rated horror flick directed by one of the guys from the Whitest Kids U’Know comedy group. Independently financed for just $4.5 million, the film’s made $34.8 million so far, and two weeks ago was the rare release that saw its distribution cranked up from 2,340 screens to 2,890 screens based on word of mouth alone. It’s yet another testament to horror being one of the most reliable, highest bang-for-buck genres, one that’s ideal for first-time filmmakers because the budgets are cheap, the baseline audience is reliable, and the word of mouth really moves the needle.
The Great Pumpkin Farm in Buffalo, New York, has produced a pumpkin weighing in at 2,554 pounds, beating out the national record of a 2,528-pound pumpkin. The monstrous gourd has easily surpassed the New York State record of 2,517 pounds, but is still shy of the world record set by an Italian pumpkin in 2021, which came in at 2,702 pounds. The Great Pumpkin Farm has a legacy here, producing in 1996 a Guinness World Record-winning pumpkin of 1,061 pounds. Obviously, the pumpkin arms race has accelerated since then. The pumpkin will be exhibited through October 16, at which point I assume it will be signed to the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line and dominate the AFC East.
Mars Orbiter Mission
India’s Mars Orbiter Mission has come to a conclusion, with the ISRO announcing that the mission is nonrecoverable after communications cut out with the instrument in April. It’s a remarkable success: Developed for the low sum of $25 million and originally intended to fly for six months, it returned data back to Earth for almost eight years, with more than 7,200 users registering to download data collected by the mission and shared with the public.
The acceptance of work-from-home has been a revelation for many adults with disabilities that precluded a commute-to-office work life. There are 42.5 million disabled Americans, and many are now benefitting from the availability of remote work. There were 2,725,000 employed disabled men and 2,858,000 employed disabled women as of August of this year. That’s up from 2,506,000 employed men and 2,303,000 employed women as of August 2019, in the year before the pandemic. All told, 37.6 percent of disabled adults are participating in the labor force, which is five percentage points higher than in April 2020.
While America’s political parties are increasingly disparate in many of their views, an issue emerges that unites both right and left: Each side thinks that their side has been losing more often than winning on the issues that matter to them. Overall, 72 percent of Americans think that in politics their team has been losing more, and just 24 percent think their team has been winning more. Among Republicans — who recently secured massive victories in the Supreme Court on issues like abortion and regulation — 81 percent think they’re losing more than they’re winning, while among Democrats — who control the presidency and, narrowly, Congress, recently achieving a milestone clean energy act — 66 percent think they’re losing more than they’re winning. Evidently politics is not a zero-sum game, because everyone somehow thinks they’re losing.
Goodwill, the secondhand store, is launching an online curated marketplace designed to compete with players like Poshmark and The RealReal. The business will especially be targeting more high-end finds on the site. It’s a compelling move, because Goodwill is a pretty remarkable business already in brick and mortar: It made $5.4 billion in retail revenue last year, it diverted 3 billion pounds of items away from landfills, and now it’s eyeing its chunk of the resale market in luxury. Resale is a massive component of the apparel business, with the secondhand market poised to double to $82 billion by 2026, its growth significantly outstripping the established retail market.
A fiasco embroiling the chess world regarding cheating allegations against a rising player has finally resulted in hard allegations, with a 72-page report conducted by flagship chess platform Chess.com alleging that Hans Moke Niemann likely received illegal assistance in 112 games on the platform, some of which were for money. The imbroglio began when Niemann beat world chess champion Magnus Carlsen, who suggested that the 19-year-old cheated. The report also describes irregularities in the rise through in-person chess — including a rise of 180 ELO points over the course of 18 months, one of the steepest rises on record — but comes short of being able to decisively claim in-person cheating.
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.
The 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.
2022 Sunday subscriber editions: Mexican Beer · The Chaos Machine · [CENSORED] · Podcast Industrialization · Fantasy Shows · Law Dork · Chinese Box Office · Box Office Recovery · Giant Hornets · Graphic Novels ·