By Walt Hickey
A Nebraska woman illegally climbed Mount Rushmore, making it 15 feet from the top of the 5,725 sculpture and opting for what I’ll call The Adams Route, which entails the tricky climb between Washington and Jefferson. After pleading guilty to the crime of climbing the mountain, Alexandria Incontro was hit with a $1,000 fine and $30 fee, which is frankly a reasonable amount of money to climb a national monument compared to the fees associated with more on-the-level summits.
Retail sales in the plant-based food category rose 11 percent in the past year to $4.5 billion, which was considerably faster growth than the 2 percent seen in the food sector overall. Dairy alternatives grew faster than animal-based milk, with the newcomers now encompassing 13 percent of the total milk market. Plant-based yogurts saw a nearly 40 percent increase in sales this year, while dairy yogurts dropped slightly. Plant-based cheese, an abomination of science, which is where I draw my line, was up 20 percent, if you dare even dignify that congealed plant slop with the glorious halo associated with cheese.
Pearson — the textbook juggernaut whose business practices have made them a larger enemy of college students than midterms, mono or even noise complaints — will completely overhaul their business by shifting away from the dreaded old-fashioned “revise the print textbook every three years to wipe out the resale market” model, and instead bleed students dry using the latest tech on the market. In 2019, Pearson updated 500 of its 1,500 textbook titles, while in 2020 the company will only update 100, instead opting for electronic textbooks on a subscription basis. Pearson makes 20 percent of its revenue from courseware, and half its annual sales are from digital.
Fire and Blood
Game of Thrones smashed the record of 27 Emmy Award nominations held by NYPD Blue in 1994 with a total 32 nominations this year. Thrones is by far the best-performing show in Emmy history, with 47 wins and what’s finished at 161 nominations. HBO’s 137 nominations are the most in the premium cable channel’s history, buoyed also by 22 other nominated programs, which included Chernobyl, Veep and Barry. Netflix increased its own record with 117, NBC and ABC saw dips and CBS and Fox were slightly up.
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Americans will spend a projected $26 billion on music and video subscription services this year, almost double the amount spent in 2017, and up $20.4 billion from 2018. Music streaming revenue is projected to hit $8.4 billion of that, up 33 percent over 2018, and paid video streaming is projected to hit $17.7 billion, up 25 percent since last year. In 2020, the total figure is projected to hit $32.3 billion, as more and more companies roll out streaming options and consumers become amenable to that kind of distribution. Video game revenue still manages to make that look measly, with a projected $39 billion this year from video gaming.
When it’s hot out people tend to get more aggressive, a maxim backed up by a new study of Los Angeles daily crime data from 2010 to 2017, which found that overall crime popped by 2.2 percent on days when the heat passed 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The effect was more significantly seen when it came to violent crime, which increased 5.7 percent. This makes a ton of sense because a particularly hot day isn’t going to make someone more likely to, I don’t know, launder money, commit fraud or scale Mount Rushmore.
E-commerce generated 1.3 million tons of container cardboard in North America in 2018, up from 1.1 million in 2017. North America has lots of space for tree farms, cheap pulp, few laws encouraging sustainability and large distances to traverse. All of these factors combined mean most cardboard is a tree before it becomes a box, as only 35 percent of North American cardboard manufacturing capacity is from recycled content. Compare that to Europe and Asia, where 80 percent and 93 percent, respectively, of cardboard manufacturing is from recycled material. Amazon — the biggest player in boxes — is attempting to cut back on superfluous packing material, reducing material used by 19 percent by weight since 2016.
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