Numlock News: August 21, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Pepsi has purchased in-home fizzy drink dispenser company SodaStream International, Ltd., for $3.2 billion. It’s Pepsi’s largest purchase in 8 years. I always knew that, one day, it would be a robot taking my drink order and replying, “I’m sorry, but is Diet Pepsi okay?” but I never expected to be disappointed like that in the sanctity of my own kitchen.

Thomas Mulier, Bloomberg

Pokemon Go Users

While down from the 300 million people playing the game in that weird summer of 2016, there remains a robust community of some 60 million people still playing outdoor augmented reality game Pokemon Go. Last week, a friend in a groupchat who happened to be visiting Europe was asked to capture a Mr. Mime while she was over there, so I did know there was still some gas in the Pokemon Go bus, but there are more players of the game than users of Uber, which has 40 million active users.

Louise Blain, The Guardian

People Who “Bought” a Bad Album

The RIAA reports that sales and streams of the Eagles’ album Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 have reached 38 million copies, thus surpassing Michael Jackson’s Thriller to become the best-selling album of all time. The album — which has at best two good songs on it, and typifies that faux-California sound crapped out by musicians who actually originated from Florida, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Michigan — arrived at No. 1 after the RIAA began adjusting figures for every 1,500 streams or every downloads into one “album sale,” because the music business is silly.

Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press

Bikini Hits Bottom

This year the Miss America pageant will not formally judge participants on physical appearance and has eliminated the swimsuit portion of the competition. A new survey of 2,202 U.S. adults finds 55 percent of respondents agreed with this decision, while only 19 percent were opposed, with 67 percent of women and 43 percent of men backing the move.

Joanna Piacenza, Morning Consult

Open Access

An analysis of the scholarly citations on Wikipedia found that even if the encyclopedia is free-for-all, much of the scholarly publications it relies on in citations are locked up behind paywalls: an analysis of 450,000 citations found only 29 percent are free-to-read at the link, and only a further 10 percent are free-to-read anywhere. This varies by subject matter: 55 percent of space-related articles are open (thanks, NASA!) while 83 percent of chemistry-related articles are paywalled.

Miriam Redi, Dario Taraborelli and Jake Orlowitz, The Wikimedia Foundation

Political Texts

Campaigns, PACs, parties and other groups are projected to send over 100 million text messages in the 2018 midterm cycle, a rather new strategy of political communication that has already proven successful. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ successful campaign against a strong party favorite sent over 120,000 texts in the summer. The four biggest companies are Hustle and Relay on the left and RumbleUp and Open Sesame on the right, the four of which have sent 90 million texts since the 2016 election.

Alex Thompson, Vice News

The Cleveland Browns

Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns have led the league when it comes to the aggregate value of their draft picks, with an expected approximate value of those picks at an eye-popping 1884, ahead of the Rams (1860), Cincinnati (1806) and San Francisco (1806) They have also, based on the eventual actual value of those picks, squandered draft opportunity more than literally any other team. For instance, Green Bay was really good at the draft, with their picks’ actual value 296.3 higher than the expectation. Other teams like the Colts (258.2), Seahawks (210.9), Panthers (166.2) and Falcons (164.4) come out in credit. Cleveland’s actual value was, in fact, 307.6 less than the expected value. The factory of sadness requires draft capital as raw material.

Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight

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