Numlock News: August 10, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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One problem with the internet and social media in general is that a few particularly chatty crackpots can look, to a passing consumer, like a robust community with thousands of believers. Take one conspiracy-minded subreddit analyzed by Vox: a quarter of the comments on /r/greatawakening came from only 210 users, and another quarter came from 690 users. That’s half the conversation stirred by like 900 people, compared to the 42,000 people who have subscribed but never once commented.

Alvin Chang, Vox

Here’s The Mail, It Never Fails

The overall volume of mail sent by Americans is sown 43 percent since 2001, because despite its many, many, many flaws the internet is still pretty reliable for a couple of things in the end. And while young people are getting less mail than their predecessors — in 2017, people aged 18 to 34 got 10 pieces of mail per week compared to 17 pieces of mail per week in 2001 — there are still some advantages the USPS hopes to press, namely that the content of your correspondence is not being analyzed, logged, and hawked to the highest bidder like it is online.

Sarah Holder, CityLab

Spider-Man’s Friends, Enemies and Frenemies

Sony is really banking on Venom being a hit this fall, as success from the property will allow it to potentially build out its own inter-connected superhero series. Sony’s licensing deal with Marvel includes the right to about 900 characters, mainly ones that stem from the world of Spider-Man. If Venom pulls a Spider-Man 2 and crushes it, you may see Morbius, Kraven the Hunter, Silk, Jackpot and Nightwatch show up on a studio calendar near you. If it pulls an Amazing Spider-Man 2 and flops, my screenplay The Bugle: J. Jonah Jameson - Origins goes back in the ol’ desk drawer.

Brent Lang and Justin Kroll, Variety

People Who Pay For Television

Pay-television subscriptions are down to 93.7 million from just shy of 101 million in 2011. About 6 Americans cancel their paid television every single minute.

Gerry Smith, Bloomberg

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This Sunday: learn all about how cities grooming beaches keep them clean, but grooming them too much can make them into coastal deserts by destroying the bottom rung of the food chain.

Non-Religious People

A new survey asked atheists, agnostics and those with no religious identity in particular for the reasons behind their (lack of) belief. Not shockingly, the most popular reason was “not believing religious teachings,” a real shocker I know. This was followed by 49 percent who cited the positions taken by churches on social and political issues, 41 percent who don’t care for religious organizations and 37 percent who simply said they do not believe in God. You may notice that nobody said “a person was an enormous pretentious jerk on the internet and thanks to the snark I was won over by their arguments,” so why don’t you make a note of that one, Reddit.

Becka A. Alper, Pew Research Center

Underwater Homes

About 10.1 percent of all U.S. homes with a mortgage are “seriously underwater.” That is homes where the balance on the loans are 25 percent higher than the actual market value of the home. There are 5.5 million seriously underwater properties in the U.S., but some areas are harder hit than others. In Louisiana, 21.7 percent of homes are seriously underwater, 18.5 percent in Illinois and 17.8 percent in Missouri. Some zip codes are particularly dire: 65809, in Springfield, Missouri has 81 percent of homes seriously underwater.

Vincent Del Giudice and Kevin Varley, Bloomberg

Sinclair-Tribune Merger

A $3.9 billion merger between Sinclair Broadcast Group (which owns 173 U.S. television stations) and the Tribune Media Company (which owns 42) has gone down in flames, and the latter company is suing Sinclair for $1 billion for breach of contract. The merger would have given Sinclair access to 73 percent of U.S. households.

Klint Finley, Wired

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