Numlock News: October 7, 2021 • Squid Game, Giant Clams, The Fattest Bear
By Walt Hickey
Spain is rolling out €250 payments to people under the age of 35 who earn less than €23,725 a year to jostle them out of living at home with their parents. The average Spaniard leaves the family home at age 30, which is four years later than the European Union average, and the percentage of 16 to 29-year-olds who have left home is 16 percent, down from 26 percent in 2007 when the economy was booming. The average wage for a young person is €11,643 per year, and with youth unemployment at 33 percent and half of employed young people on temporary contracts, the economic situation is perilous for young Spaniards.
HE’S DONE IT AGAIN: 480 Otis, a bear residing in Katmai National Park in Alaska, has won the annual Fat Bear Week vote for the fourth time. Otis brings over 25 years of experience to the autumnal ursine endeavor of bulking up before winter, and handily defeated the 16 competitors in the online tournament organized by the park to select which of the 2,200 brown bears in the 4.1 million acre park is crowned the champion. Over 800,000 votes were cast in the competition, which began in 2014 as a way to highlight the park’s bears.
Authorities in the Philippines have seized 133,000 tons of giant clamshells since 2016, most of which came from a single raid in October 2019. Giant clams are getting rarer and rarer, and despite protections for the magnificent mollusks across Oceania they fetch high prices in China where they’re fashioned into the kind of things ivory was once used for. China banned elephant ivory in 2017, which is great, don’t get me wrong, but demand has shifted to materials that look like ivory of which clams do the trick. There’s also evidence that giant clamshells and elephant ivory are being trafficked together, with a fifth of giant clamshell seizures in China also including some ivory.
The fourth quarter holiday season is responsible for around 70 percent of annual sales for the $33 billion U.S. toy industry, and 85 percent of toys are made in China. Given that the cutoff date to get stuff to America in time for the holidays has pretty much elapsed, some toy makers have had to make some gutsy calls about what does and what doesn’t get on the boat. For one, the Basic Fun toy company decided to leave fully a third of its Tonka Mighty Dump Trucks in China. The retail price of the trucks is $26 and transportation to the U.S. was 7 percent of the sticker price last year but today stands at 40 percent.
Netflix’s Squid Game is a massive global hit, with the South Korean battle royale in pole position to be the most popular series ever aired on Netflix. The reverberations of that are already being felt, with the green tracksuits contestants wear on the show becoming a bestseller overnight, and now the white slip-on Vans the characters all wear are spiking 7,800 percent since the show hit Netflix, according to Sole Supplier. People settling for off-brand has sent white slip-on shoes up 97 percent. Anyway, I’m looking forward to Halloween, when everyone will either be a contestant on a Korean death game show, a Loki variant, and, after this week, I’m gonna guess Otis.
As it stands, No Time To Die is expected to conservatively open in the $55 to $60 million range, but scuttlebutt is that there’s a serious chance the Bond film opens to way more in the United States. Advanced ticket sales are reportedly really, really good, better than F9 and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, but obviously the film industry is no longer in the business of posessing hope. It’s the last Bond outing for Daniel Craig, and the first Bond film to be shot in Imax 15/70MM, and will have every Imax screen in the country at least until Dune opens.
A malaria vaccine developed by GlaxoSmithKline has gotten the seal of approval from the World Health Organization, and the moderately effective shot is projected to have an enormous impact on public global health. Malaira kills a half a million people every year, most of them under the age of five, and Mosquirix, the dumb name they gave the miracle drug, is the first ever for a parasitic disease. With an efficacy of 50 percent against severe malaria in the first year — an efficacy that falls to nearly zero by year four — it’s still expected to prevent 5.4 million cases of malaria and 23,000 deaths of children under the age of five every year if successfully rolled out to countries with high incidence.
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