By Walt Hickey
The interim results of a French study on the effectiveness of “on-demand” PrEP — a drug that helps prevent the transmission of HIV — are super promising. Roughly 1,600 men who have sex with men are enrolled in the study to find out if PrEP taken before and after sex is as effective as PrEP taken every day. Of the 1,600 participants, 55 percent opted for the former option. Without PrEP, researchers would have expected about 85 participants to have contracted HIV by this point: so far, 0 have. If results continue to validate this new prevention strategy, it could be a game-changer for the drug. Right now daily PrEP is effective and very useful, but the cost of the daily regimen is prohibitive for many.
Just a quick plug for a buddy of mine who also started a new thing: I don't really cover big day-to-day national politics in Numlock, but my friend Judd Legum just launched a really wonderful newsletter called Popular Information. Judd's got real expertise, and I like his newsletter's style over the chaotic fire hose that social media can be. Check it out at Popular.info.
Horse Racing Employees
In a stunning illustration of legislative competence, Massachusetts sort of forgot to keep horse racing legal. Bill H.4809 extends horse racing’s legality into 2019, but the legislature straight-up forgot to pass it and live and simulcast horse racing expired in the Commonwealth July 31, the last day of the formal session. As it stands, horse racing is now illegal. This is an unpleasant surprise for the approximately 290 people planning to have a job at this weekend’s Suffolk Downs races on Saturday, not to mention the hundreds of people and their (presumably indifferent?) horses. It’ll probably be handled at a lightly-attended session today.
Where The Wild Things Are
A recurring debate over whether adults aged 25 to 34 want to live in cities or whether they’ll do what the previous cohort did and move out to the suburbs won’t be settled anytime soon, but there’s a shot that both camps are right. Interestingly, looking in the one-mile radius of a city center, population growth rates for that age cohort in the 2000s and 2010s are essentially the same, 1.9 percent versus 1.4 percent. But it’s 3 to 10 miles from the center of town — the edge of the city, but not quite in the burbs yet — where the contrast is most profound. In the 2000s, the growth rate for those 25 to 34 was -7.3 percent, meaning they were getting the hell out of there. Today, that age cohort is rising 10.1 percent.
AMC Entertainment, the movie theater chain, made $1.44 billion in the three months ending in June, up 20 percent from the same quarter the previous year. There are lots of interesting things to dissect in this quarterly: admissions revenues were up 17.7 percent, but food and beverage revenues were even better, up 19.2 percent. Here’s whats really interesting and a possible major shift to the business: the AMC subscription alternative to MoviePass called “A-List” also racked up 181,790 paying members in its first five weeks. Calling MoviePass “financially troubled” is like calling the Titanic “tidally challenged,” my point being that even if MoviePass explodes like the dying star of Krypton there’s still a shot that we get Superman out of the wreckage.
Major Studio Film With An Entirely Asian-American Ensemble
Crazy Rich Asians will be the first movie with an all-Westernized Asian cast and creator since “The Joy Luck Club” in 1993. That film made, adjusted for inflation, $57 million. With 76 speaking parts that are almost entirely Asian, the $30 million “Crazy Rich Asians” has the potential to change the perceived financial calculus of making movies that feature literally anyone who is not white. Early tracking projects a $20 million opening, which would put it ahead of most romantic comedies.
The latest numbers from Nielsen show that on average American adults spend 11.1 hours every day consuming media, up 19 minutes over the previous quarter. The breakdown is interesting, and more low-tech than you might expect: 92 percent of adults listen to radio in an average week, 88 percent watch television, 79 percent mess around on a smartphone, 60 percent on a computer and 15 percent on a game console.
The penguin population on Ile aux Cochons, an island in the southern Indian ocean, has been decimated since the last time scientists checked in on the birds in 1982. Last time around, they counted 502,400 breeding pairs, which translated to about 2 million penguins. In April 2017, that was down to 59,200 breeding pairs.
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