Numlock News: November 19, 2019 • Hydrogen, Kylie Cosmetics, The Wind

By Walt Hickey

Yogurt

Yogurt comes in dozens of possible varieties now, but nevertheless sales are in a slump. Overall U.S. sales of yogurt and yogurt beverages are expected to be $8.2 billion in 2019, down 3.6 percent from 2018 and down significantly from the peak of $9 billion in 2015. By 2024, yogurt sales are projected to drop 10 percent to $7.4 billion. The Yogurt industrial complex seems to think that the thing lacking is innovation, which in a space where the yogurt aisle has become functionally the United Nations is a bold claim indeed. Low-sugar, coconut-based or oat milk-based yogurts are seen as opportunities. My pitch: find a television chef willing to do for Tzatziki what Guy Fieri did for Donkey Sauce, problem solved people.

Dee-Ann Durbin, The Associated Press

Beachfront

After water, sand is the single most used natural resource on earth, and we’re running out of it. Every year, people use 50 billion tonnes of sand and gravel aggregate, and that’s causing issues. Sand is an exhaustible resource, as the wind-swept stuff in deserts isn’t the kind that makes for good concrete. You need the stuff that's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. That angular sand, the kind found on riverbeds, is the good sand for concrete and earthworks. Humans have added an estimated 5,237 square miles of artificial land to the world’s coasts since 1985, which is roughly one Jamaica worth of new land.

Vince Beiser, BBC

The Wind Rises

Atmospheric and oceanic shifts have led to increasing wind speeds worldwide. In northern latitudes, average wind speeds have risen 7 percent since 2010 according to new research published in Nature Climate Change, which is good news in the sense that wind farms will produce significantly more energy than previously anticipated. If the trend continues, wind power generation could increase 37 percent. These types of shifts take decades to happen and the increase in wind speeds will continue at least another decade.

Will Mathis, Bloomberg

Holland’s Opus

The Netherlands is taking active steps to rein in light pollution, and it’s beginning to pay off. Worldwide the total area of earth that was artificially lit grew 2.2 percent from 2012 to 2016, and cities became 2.2 percent brighter year over year. The Milky Way is not observable for 80 percent of Americans and 60 percent of Europeans, and The Netherlands is one of the brightest countries in all of the continent, with a very high population density. Hence, a new national campaign — Nacht van de Nacht, or Night of the Night — calls for local governments and companies to kill the lights one night of the year, and people go into the woods to soak the dark in. It’s led to broader changes, like a major billboard company turning off the lights from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. amid absent demand, and the Dutch turning off artificial lighting on unused sections of highway. This sounds like a great idea I’d love to see implemented elsewhere, so if you’ll excuse me I have a Queens community board meeting to get unanimously laughed out of.

Sophie Knight, CityLab

Bona Fide Billionaire

Kylie Jenner has sold a $600 million controlling 51 percent stake in her cosmetics company to Coty Inc., the company behind CoverGirl and Clairol. Kylie Cosmetics is on track for $200 million in sales this year, and the company is now valued at $1.2 billion. The $52 billion U.S. beauty market has been thoroughly disrupted by firms like Jenner’s and rival Glossier: independent makeup brand sales were up 24 percent in 2017 compared to the overall market average of 5.9 percent.

Sharon Terlep, The Wall Street Journal

TikTok

The average time spent per day watching online videos grew from two minutes per day in India in 2012 to 52 minutes per day as of 2018. Indians’ demand for online content has long been satisfied by YouTube, which has 265 million users in the world’s largest democracy, but Chinese app TikTok has been positively exploding in popularity there. The app supports 15 Indian languages, and is leading to the classic cocktail of fame, fortune, and disaster that all new social media crazes bring. TikTok counts 200 million users in India, and it’s the most downloaded app in the country in large metropolises and small villages alike.

Snigdha Poonam and Samarth Bansal, The Atlantic

Hydrogen

The reality is that it’s really, really hard to get the temperatures needed in factory furnaces without fossil fuels and the greenhouse gasses they produce, but hydrogen could be the answer if the economics get a little better. It flames at 3,632 Fahrenheit and gives off just water vapor, we use it in space ships and it’s great. Producing hydrogen is pricey, and the cheap ways currently involve splitting up hydrocarbons, which produces carbon dioxide which leaves us with the same problem we began with. But now new research is working on electrolysis, where electricity is run through water to make hydrogen and which can be powered with green energy sources. Green hydrogen costs $2.50 to $6.80 per kilogram to make, partly because the electrolysis that produces it is pricey when powered just by renewables alone. To compete with coal, that price would have to drop to $2, and to compete with the cheapest natural gas production it’d have to drop to 60 cents per kilogram. European companies in particular are working on making the cost to produce hydrogen drop thanks to moves by their governments.

William Wilkes, Vanessa Dezem, and Anna Shiryaevskaya, Bloomberg

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Secondhand · Biometrics · Voting Machines · Open Borders ·  WrestleMania ·  Game of Thrones ·  Concussion Snake Oil ·  Skyglow ·  Juul ·  Chris Ingraham ·  Invasive Species ·  The Rat Spill ·  The Sterling Affairs ·  Snakebites ·  Bees ·  Deep Fakes ·  Artificial Intelligence ·  Marijuana ·  Mussels ·

100% Renewable Grid ·  Drive Thru Dreams ·  Department Stores & Champion ·  Baltimore Crab Shacks ·  Kylie Jenner ·  Amber Fossils ·  Self-Improvement ·  Box Office Forecasting ·  Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  Saving the World ·  Summer Movies ·  No One Man Should Have All That Power ·  Film Incentives ·  Stadiums & Casinos ·  Late Night ·  65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite
2018 Sunday Editions:2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

Numlock News: November 18, 2019 • Japanese Towns, Christmas Movies, Charlie's Angels

By Walt Hickey

The first batch of stickers and magnets are in the mail this week. Now when you tell a friend to sign up for Numlock, you’ll get some free Numlock stickers and magnets if you go to swag.numlock.news. It’s a great way to reach new readers organically.

War on Christmas II

Hallmark has long dominated the TV movie holiday game — the network and its partner Hallmark Movies & Mysteries will unveil a record 40 new holiday films this season — and spends 30 percent of its annual production budget on Christmas movies. Hollywood is no stranger to spending lots on holiday movies, from the $30 million 2019 holiday film Last Christmas to the $40 million 2003 film Love, Actually to the $28 million 1988 Christmas classic Die Hard. But this year, the cold war is heating up yet again, as Hallmark faces new rivals from Disney and Lifetime. Lifetime will broadcast 30 new holiday titles, double their production in 2018 which led to a 30 percent year-over-year ratings bump. Traffic to streaming services increases in November and December: in 2018 Hulu was up 30 percent and Netflix saw a 6.3 percent bump.

R.T. Watson, The Wall Street Journal

Data

If you ever feel like the government and private corporations are trying to track your personal data and there’s nothing you can do about it, at least you’re not alone: basically everyone else feels that way now too. According to the Pew Research Center, 81 percent of Americans think they have little to no control over the data companies collect, 81 percent say they think the potential risks outweigh the benefits of companies collecting their data, and 79 percent are concerned about how the companies use the data. For perspective, “only” two thirds of Americans say they’re worried about the risks of government collecting their data, and “merely” 64 percent have concerns about how the Feds will use it.

Brooke Auxier, Lee Rainie, Monica Anderson, Andrew Perrin, Madhu Kumar and Erica Turner, Pew Research Center

Taxation

Companies that were on the S&P 500 had an average effective tax rate of 18.1 percent in 2018, which was down considerably from 25.9 percent in 2016. Even more eye-popping is that more than 200 of those companies had their effective tax rate drop by at least 10 percentage points. Some sectors really benefited from the 2017 tax code change that cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent: the median communication services company saw their effective tax rate drop 15 percentage points and the median utility company saw their tax rate fall 14 percentage points.

Jim Tankersley, Peter Eavis and Ben Casselman, The New York Times

Returns

In 2018, Americans returned 10 percent of purchases, $369 billion worth of undesired items sent back to retailers. That’s up from 8 percent in 2016, and returns have become a substantial, if at times burdensome logistical issue. There’s a whole industry dealing with the unwanted stuff, from the delivery companies who handle e-commerce returns — in December consumers return over 1 million packages per day on average — to the companies who deal with what actually comes back in those parcels. Optoro, a company that helps companies manage returns, estimated 10 percent of merch actually ends up back on shelves, with the rest sold on to discount stores, recyclers, charity, or in the worst case scenarios landfills and incinerators.

Adam Minter, Bloomberg

I spoke to Adam for this past week’s Sunday edition. He’s got a new book out called Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale which is fascinating. I’ve dropped the paywall for my subscriber-only interview with Adam if you want to check out some of the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber to Numlock.

Angels

Ford v Ferrari made $31 million at the domestic box office and $21 million abroad, a solid launch for an awards contender and a beat on expectations, which had been just $20 million. On the other hand, the new Charlie’s Angels tanked, making $8.6 million from 3,452 venues and securing third place behind Midway. That film — the third big-screen adaptation of the 1976-81 ABC television series — had been projected to make $13 million in its opening on a $48 million budget. It’s a real shame that television was discontinued in 1981 and there are no new intellectual properties to adapt.

Rebecca Rubin, Variety

Japan

Young workers in Japan are flocking to metropolises like Tokyo and Osaka, and rural towns are suffering what could very well be an economic death spiral. If current trends continue unabated, by 2040 there will be 869 municipalities at the risk of vanishing, which is about half the number in Japan. Some prefectures have it worse than others, but the municipalities at risk are leaning heavily on tourism, consolidation with neighboring areas and increasing foreign residents through heavy recruitment and campaigns for retention.

Allan Richarz, CityLab

Planes

Airlines are ordering fewer and fewer twin-aisle jets such as the Boeing 777 and the Airbus A330, which are the most profitable products of the manufacturers. In 2014, there were 463 Airbus and 328 Boeing wide body jet orders. In 2018, there were just 289 for Airbus and 218 for Boeing, and as of the end of October there were just 156 Airbus and 141 Boeing wide body orders in 2019. In October, Boeing said it will cut monthly production of the 787, another wide body model, down to 12 from 14 in 2020, and Airbus said it will keep output of the A350 at 10 per month. Meanwhile, the single-aisle jet airplane business is booming: the pair of manufacturers are working on 10,500 orders for those smaller planes.

Doug Cameron, The Wall Street Journal

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.


Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at walt@numlock.news. Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at copy@numlock.news.

The very 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.

Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Secondhand · Biometrics · Voting Machines · Open Borders ·  WrestleMania ·  Game of Thrones ·  Concussion Snake Oil ·  Skyglow ·  Juul ·  Chris Ingraham ·  Invasive Species ·  The Rat Spill ·  The Sterling Affairs ·  Snakebites ·  Bees ·  Deep Fakes ·  Artificial Intelligence ·  Marijuana ·  Mussels ·

100% Renewable Grid ·  Drive Thru Dreams ·  Department Stores & Champion ·  Baltimore Crab Shacks ·  Kylie Jenner ·  Amber Fossils ·  Self-Improvement ·  Box Office Forecasting ·  Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  Saving the World ·  Summer Movies ·  No One Man Should Have All That Power ·  Film Incentives ·  Stadiums & Casinos ·  Late Night ·  65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite
2018 Sunday Editions:2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

Numlock Sunday: Adam Minter, author of Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale

Note: Numlock is free to read every weekday morning, but the readers who pay a little bit each month to make the whole operation possible get a Sunday edition that looks like this. I’m making this Sunday edition free to read because I loved the interview and think more folks should see it. If you’re new, you should sign up to read Numlock, and consider becoming a paid subscriber today.

By Walt Hickey

Welcome to the Numlock Sunday edition. Each week, I'll sit down with an author or a writer, behind one of the stories covered in a previous weekday edition for a casual conversation about what they wrote.

This week, I spoke to Adam Minter who wrote Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale. An excerpt from the book ran in Bloomberg, here's what I wrote about it:

Rags are a serious business, with entire companies existing to turn discarded apparel into rags that aid in critical cleaning, industrial, or extraction processes. While lots of the recycling has moved abroad, Star Wipers is the largest American brand that converts former garments into billions of wiping rags needed in the oil and gas business, hospitality industry, and construction. Such rags are the eventual end of about 30 percent of textiles recovered for recycling in the U.S., and factoring in multiple cycles of textile reuse the percentage is probably much higher than that. In 2017, Star Wipers sold 15 million pounds of rags, and depending on quality a five-pound box of ex-t-shirts can go for $9 to $25, depending on color and quality.

I loved this because I had no clue about this industry and I absolutely had to know more immediately. Adam’s book is eye-opening, and he traveled all around the world to find out about the second, third and more lives of the things we use.

We spoke about the thriving repair culture in Ghana, why it’s not just new items getting imported across borders, and how the entire thriving Arizona thrift store business depends on trade with Mexico.

Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale can be found wherever books are sold.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Walt Hickey: Can you tell me about Secondhand and what got you interested in what happens after we finish using our stuff?

Adam Minter: There's a couple of different routes to this whole project. The first one really is personal: like a lot of folks, in recent years I've suffered a loss of two close relatives. When that happened, we had to not only get through the mourning of our relatives, but also had to figure out what to do with their stuff. That's a very common American experience these days: somebody passed away and they leave behind a house full of stuff. When that happened, especially with my mother, it made me think that maybe there's some value in tracing this for other people who are going through what I did.

Another component is that I've always written about waste and recycling around the world. My family has been in it since the 1920s and I worked in it before becoming a journalist. There's always been an interest in the subject. The third part of it is I actually traveled to West Africa for the first time in 2015, and while I was there, I was astounded to see that basically the entire economy was essentially secondhand. The retail trade wasn't new stuff, it was used stuff. And so when you put those together, it seems to me like a pretty good basis for a book.

The book covers this whole industry of how stuff gets turned into other things, how the market works. You had a story in Bloomberg about the rag market, which is fairly huge. Can you go into a little bit about how you found that story?

As long as people have been wearing clothes, they've been wearing out. When they wear out, people look for something to do with a worn out fabric. I don't know about you, but in my household we would take old tee shirts that have holes in them, we'd cut up and use them to wipe things down. In the early 20th century and 19th century that started to become an industry, because people were using more and more clothing because we had factory-made clothing and store-bought clothing. As people started wasting more clothing, this industry emerged to deal with it.

Today roughly one third of the clothes generated in the United States alone are turned into wiping rags. Those are rags that are used for everything from wiping down bar countertops, used by a housekeeping services and hotels to clean up your room, to more industrial uses like wiping down machines in factories or wiping off dripping oil at an oil pipeline. So it's an incredibly important industry, it's been around for centuries, but nobody had really ever looked into it.

The way I found it was to actually reach out to a trade association that represents a bunch of different kinds of textile recyclers. I asked them if they had any rag trading members and they put me in touch with Star Wipers and I consider it my great fortune that they invited me to come and visit their factory. I think it was very interesting because it's one of the last great American rag making factories.

You did a ton of traveling for this book, it seems!

The book actually opens in Tucson, Arizona. I spent some time in Tucson — almost a month — at a set of 15 Goodwill stores, learning how Goodwill works and following the things that are sold at Goodwill down to Mexico. Most of our stores along the border actually are selling to Mexican customers who take that stuff to Mexico and sell it there. So I also spent time in the border community of Nogales, Arizona and the border community of Nogales, Mexico, learning the trade and seeing how American stuff is resold for reuse there.

In addition to traveling around the United States I spent a significant amount of time in Japan, where I got to know about Japan's very refined second secondhand industry. In Japan, the secondhand industry encompasses everything starting at services that clean up people homes after they decided to downsize or after they pass away, and I followed that to the large companies that repack stuff for sale around Asia. I spent time in Malaysia — which is actually where I live — looking at thrift stores there.

And then I spent a significant amount of time in West Africa, mostly in Ghana's Northern region and then also in Accra, the capitol, basically looking at how electronics are reused there. We have this image that in Africa, the electronics that are imported there are merely set fire to and doused with acid so people can extract the precious metals, but that's not the case at all. The reason they're imported is because people want good quality imported electronics at a price point that they can afford, and that's oftentimes secondhand. So I wanted to show how that works..

A Salvation Army thrift store in California JGKlein / Wikimedia Commons

So much of the writing about the global economy has been about the manufacture of new things and there's a second half of the equation that really gets overlooked. And that's why the book is so cool to me. Can you tell me a little bit about that?


We don't really have a good statistical picture of what the secondhand industry looks like globally. There are no statistics on the number of garage sale held in the United States, there's no statistics about how many refrigerators moved from dorm rooms to the Salvation Army. And there's very little statistical information on how much is being imported to developing countries, especially developing countries where their entire retail economy is largely secondhand.

As a result of that, if you don't have data in this modern world things really don't exist. One of the challenges of this book for me was to figure out how to show people what's going on, how big this is without being able to give them any data points on it. I went and visited these places and spent time there and I lived there. From that you can get a picture of just how big this is, and how crucial the secondhand economy and secondhand goods are to billions of people around the world.

There's an entire second life of so much of these materials immediately after they're reused.

One of the things that I just found so interesting is the fact that you have in Arizona a thriving thrift store community. One of the reasons there's so many thrift stores in a place like Tucson is because they have a military base there. People are coming and going a lot, and when they go, they drop things off. Then you also have a retirement population there. People are passing away and their stuff was left behind.

I found it fascinating that there weren't enough people in Arizona to buy all that stuff that was being left behind. The health of these thrift stores, especially Goodwill, was really dependent on people coming up from Mexico and buying things from Goodwill, emptying their inventory and bringing it back to Mexico. If folks from Mexico were not coming up to buy goods out of thrift stores in Arizona, all of that stuff — those hundreds of thousands, if not millions of objects that are donated there every year — would end up in landfills and incinerators. So it really goes to show just how important it is that people are able to flow back and forth across that border, and that they have to some degree at least a free trade in secondhand goods.

A lot of the globalization that we talk about are these networks sending new manufactured goods to different countries. But it seems like there's this second life. You mentioned going to Ghana, is that right? What was going on there?

In many ways it's just like every other emerging economy, it's in some respects very similar to Mexico. There's some things that Ghana will not import. You won't see a lot of furniture because it's very expensive to ship, and you can't put very much of it into a container of secondhand furniture. So Ghana imports the higher value items, something you could fit well into a container. So that would be electronics and that would be textiles, apparel, and clothing.

One of the really exciting things in Ghana is the fact that for the electronics that are brought in there, they have such skilled self-trained electricians and repair technicians and fixers that they are able to take these things like would never be reused in United States — because they're broken, or because they're older — and they're able to repair them and give them a consistent longer life than they'd ever have in the United States. At one point in the book I profile a repairman in a town called Savelugu in Northern Ghana who worked on 40 year old televisions. He keeps them going, and that's not just good for the people of Savelugu — they can continue watching their television — but I'd argue it's good for the environment as well because you have these things continuing to be used. The best thing you can do with your electronics, from an environmental standpoint, is just keep using them.


To an extent there is no repair culture really in the United States, so that is really cool.

I think the good news is there's an emerging repair culture in the United States. It's still very small, but you have sites I like to point people to like iFixit where they put up repair manuals for stuff. You do have something emerging. The hard thing is when any goods become so cheap that you know, you can buy a flat screen television for $200 or $300. So when that breaks, the incentive isn't there because it's not much of a financial loss to basically buy a new one as compared to having it repaired. In places where there isn't such a a high degree of affluence the repair incentive is a lot stronger.

How can folks get a hold of the book?


The name of the book is Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale, and you can basically get it anywhere you like to buy books online or in brick-and-mortar stores. Independent bookstores around the United States are being very supportive of this book. They've highlighted it for the month of December, which is a lot of fun because it's a month when people are buying a lot of new stuff. So here's a book to tell you about buying secondhand stuff. So I always encourage people to go to their independent bookstore and give them some business as well. The libraries have been very supportive and it's a great way to keep books circulating around and gave them access to anybody who wants.


If you have anything you’d like to see in this Sunday special, shoot me an email. Comment below! Thanks for reading, and thanks so much for supporting Numlock.

Thank you so much for becoming a paid subscriber!

Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at walt@numlock.news

Numlock News: November 15, 2019 • Volcanos, Stars, Insulin

By Walt Hickey

Now when you tell a friend about Numlock, you’ll get some free Numlock stickers and magnets. Go to swag.numlock.news, direct friends to the welcome page, or click here to generate an invitation, or just forward an email you liked. It’s a great way to reach new readers organically.

Super Bowl

Though it may be merely November, Fox has sold 60 of 77 available ad spots for the 2020 Super Bowl. The slots are selling for $5.6 million each or for the comparative bargain of $5.5 million each in the event an advertiser takes two 30-second advertising time slots. The remaining 17 commercial ad slots have 25 prospective buyers. While the second and third quarters are fairly booked up, the fourth quarter is quite available if you want your business to appear during a commercial break that allows the Patriots to wreck a perfectly likable team.

Scott Soshnick, Bloomberg

Insulin

The number of people in the world who suffer from diabetes is now about 400 million, four times the rate of 35 years ago. About 20 million people have Type 1 diabetes. Given that everyone with Type 1 and a fifth of those with Type 2 need regular injections of insulin, the fact that a vial of insulin in the U.S goes for $275 compared to $35 two decades ago is a serious concern for a massive number of humans. The WHO announced Wednesday that it will begin testing and approving generic versions of insulin in an attempt to drive down the price of a drug marketed predominantly by Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi.

Donald G. McNeil Jr., The New York Times

Volcano

On November 1, the island of Lateiki in the archipelago Kingdom of Tonga was destroyed by a volcano. These things happen, but on the plus side welcome to the new island of Lateiki, formed by the volcano about 400 feet west of its predecessor. The new island is 1,310 feet long and 330 feet wide, a considerable expansion of the previous island.

Robin George Andrews, The New York Times

Judges

Three Indiana judges have been suspended following a drunken brawl in the parking lot of a White Castle that escalated after one of the judges flipped the bird at a passing car. Two of those judges were subsequently shot by an assailant. Two were suspended 30 days and one 60 days. The trio was suspended on the grounds that they "gravely undermined public trust in the dignity and decency of Indiana's judiciary” when they got rowdy in that White Castle parking lot.

Laurel Wamsley, NPR

Goddess of Victory

Nike’s Vaporfly running shoes are good, but the question is are they too good. Granted any cross-historical analysis of running times is worthy of being judged by its equipment — the best part of Chariots of Fire is when they smoke like five cigarettes before making a go of it— but the Vaporfly may just be too good. Nike says they’ll make someone expend 4 percent less effort, and finally race administrators are starting to take that seriously. Right now, all five of the top men’s marathon times and two of the women’s were set with Vaporflys.

Eben Novy-Williams, Bloomberg

Star

Astronomers have observed a star exiting the Milky Way at 3.7 million miles per hour, and I say we hear the star out. In 100 million years, the star — which was launched towards the exits after accelerating past the black hole at the center of the galaxy — will formally exit the galaxy. The observation was made by the Anglo-Australian Telescope, and it’s the third-fastest star ever measured. The other two stars were accelerated by supernovae.

Hannah Devlin, The Guardian

Pigeons

A new study found that pigeons may be suffering from the effects of human hair laying about, particularly when it comes to their extremely gross feet. The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, analyzed pigeons at 46 different sites around Paris and found that those which dwelled in the vicinity of a large density of hairdressers were more likely to suffer from toe mutilation. The phenomenon — stringfeet — can lead to issues for the birds.

Jack Guy and Barbara Wojazer, CNN

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The very 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.

Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Open Borders ·  WrestleMania ·  Game of Thrones ·  Concussion Snake Oil ·  Skyglow ·  Juul ·  Chris Ingraham ·  Invasive Species ·  The Rat Spill ·  The Sterling Affairs ·  Snakebites ·  Bees ·  Deep Fakes ·  Artificial Intelligence ·  Marijuana ·  Mussels ·

100% Renewable Grid ·  Drive Thru Dreams ·  Department Stores & Champion ·  Baltimore Crab Shacks ·  Kylie Jenner ·  Amber Fossils ·  Self-Improvement ·  Box Office Forecasting ·  Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  Saving the World ·  Summer Movies ·  No One Man Should Have All That Power ·  Film Incentives ·  Stadiums & Casinos ·  Late Night ·  65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite
2018 Sunday Editions:2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

Numlock News: November 14, 2019 • Dealbreakers, Bears, Jimmy Fallon,

By Walt Hickey

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Hail, Hail

Over the past decade damage stemming from hailstorms has cost an average $10 billion annually, and traditional insurance companies are constantly trying to find ways to protect against ice balls hurled from the heavens at property like buildings and crops. The main areas where hail does the most damage are “hail alley” from Colorado to Texas. Last year was a forgiving year — just 4,610 large hailstorms where stones were at least an inch in diameter — but the previous year saw 6,045 such storms. Insurance policies against hail damage are pricey and getting pricier: a Cadillac dealership in Denver had been paying $160,000 to insure $20 million of merchandise on the lot, which this year rose to $600,000.

Ira Boudway, Bloomberg

Sandwiches

Subway, which is the largest restaurant chain on the planet, saw its U.S. store figure fall by 1,110 last year after consecutive declines of 359 stores by 2016 and 866 stores as of 2017. At the end of 2018, there were 24,798 Subway stores, which is not exactly “endangered species” status, but is nevertheless way down from the 27,103 shops at the end of 2015. It’s tough out there to be a Subway franchise: the company is pushing costly remodeling costs, the menu is changing to reflect the hot new trend of people wanting non-terrible food, and the company is in damage control with its mom-and-pop franchisees to try to stem the closures. The good news is that in renovated stores with new designs, Subway saw an 8 percent pop in foot traffic — 15 percent in stores they relocated — which explains why corporate is putting up $100 million to get their franchisees to step on the gas.

Danny Klein, QSR Magazine

Jimmy

With the new season of late night TV coming in, ratings have taken a dip across the board, but no more than among the audience for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, which is down 17 percent among total viewers compared to 5 percent down for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and 1 percent for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. That latter show has been crushing the once-supreme Fallon, hauling in 3.44 million viewers on average from September 23 to November 1. Colbert is handily defeating The Tonight Show, which hauled in an average 1.92 million, which is even just shy of Kimmel’s 1.93 million.

Marisa Guthrie, The Hollywood Reporter

This past weekend’s subscriber special was a great chat with Dave Gershgorn of OneZero about his wonderful story about how military facial recognition tech could be getting a lot more powerful.

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Ursa Major

North Carolina has seen its cities and suburbs expand into once-rural areas, driving increased encounters with bears. The population of black bears rose from about 1,000 in the Asheville vicinity to 4,000 now. The Asheville metro area — which has grown 40 percent in the past 20 years — in particular represented around 58 percent of human-bear interactions. This time of year can be particularly troublesome for human-bear relations as the bears are looking to chomp down on 20,000 calories per day to prep for hibernation, while the humans also probably have stuff to do as well. In 1998 there were 192 black bear complaints in North Carolina, but by 2016 that had steadily risen to 583. Complaints about black bears popped to 1,167 in 2017, in part thanks to a new toll-free hotline created to better handle all those complaints.

Valerie Bauerlein, The Wall Street Journal

Dealbreakers

Figuring out how to crack the algorithm of dating websites can give a better look at what people, in fact, desire from their partners, but more to the point what they actually care about. In one study, students were asked to list dealbreakers in a potential partner. Later in the semester, they participated in a dating program and, when they had a favorite selected, the researchers then revealed that person had two of those dealbreakers. Nevertheless, 74 percent of participants who thought a genuine date was in the cards still wanted to go on a date. Among people who knew it was a hypothetical, even still 40 percent would look past those flaws. It turns out people have standards the same way that television networks do: as long as the rating is high, you can probably stomach the inevitable costs and likely headache. Another analysis of eHarmony data found that people were less bothered by drinking and smoking than they might predict. The moral? I have no idea, self-improvement is useless and there are no romantic consequences for moral failures? That can’t be right.

William Park, BBC

Go For It

Through the first nine weeks of the NFL season, teams have attempted to make a play on 4th down and two yards 35 percent of the time, and have gone for a play 53 percent of the time on 4th-and-one. Historically, those teams would have sent out the punter and gave the ball away, but even the risk-averse NFL cannot overcome the bona fide can’t-be-ignored mathematical benefit of taking the risk and making an attempt. Now it’s nearly commonplace, but the trend’s been gradual: in the 2018 season, teams went on 4th-and-two just 24 percent of the time, and 16 years ago just 16 percent of the time.

Kevin Clark, The Ringer

Supermarkets

Last year sales at traditional supermarkets fell 1.7 percent compared with the previous year, going instead to wholesalers, supercenters and dollar stores. About 0.9 percent of the marketshare in food sales shifted away from traditional grocers to other competitors, and that doesn’t look like it will change: last year the number of grocery stores fell 1.3 percent, to less than 25,000, a paltry number on par with the likes of Subway. The number of supermarkets in the U.S. is projected to decline by 6 percent over the next five years. Some regional brands — H-E-B, Hy-Vee, Kroger, Wegmans and Publix — have managed to stake out a brand by paying workers better and emphasizing customer service. The good news for them is that 95 percent of Americans still buy groceries in-person. The bad news is that major national supercenters and tech companies are gunning for them.

Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Open Borders ·  WrestleMania ·  Game of Thrones ·  Concussion Snake Oil ·  Skyglow ·  Juul ·  Chris Ingraham ·  Invasive Species ·  The Rat Spill ·  The Sterling Affairs ·  Snakebites ·  Bees ·  Deep Fakes ·  Artificial Intelligence ·  Marijuana ·  Mussels ·

100% Renewable Grid ·  Drive Thru Dreams ·  Department Stores & Champion ·  Baltimore Crab Shacks ·  Kylie Jenner ·  Amber Fossils ·  Self-Improvement ·  Box Office Forecasting ·  Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  Saving the World ·  Summer Movies ·  No One Man Should Have All That Power ·  Film Incentives ·  Stadiums & Casinos ·  Late Night ·  65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite
2018 Sunday Editions:2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

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