Numlock News: August 28, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Home Prices

Congratulations to Baby Boomers, whose decades-long quest to pull the ladder up behind them is coming to full fruition. In the second quarter, first time homebuyers needed 23 percent of their annual income saved up to afford a down payment on a basic starter home, up from 21 percent a year ago and the highest since the dizzying highs before the market crash in 2008. In New York and San Francisco, the median household needed 65 percent of their income to buy a home.

Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg


A perfect storm of an auction is about to take place. When I think “people with far too much money,” I think of Apple fanboys, the tech industry, and people who like mint-condition vintage stuff. An Apple-1 computer that has been restored to its full operational state will hit the auction block and may fetch over $300,000, a solid increase for the $666 it cost when released ($2,950 in 2018 dollars). Only 200 were produced by Jobs and Woz in 1979 and 1977, only 175 of which were even sold and only 60 of which are believed to still exist. This 100 percent convinces me that, yes, it was worth saving my 2005 iPod Mini all these years.

Matt Novak, Gizmodo

Dry Cleaning

Chemicals caused by the breakdown of dry cleaning fluids are a considerable public health risk when they seep into groundwater, harming the nervous system, liver, kidneys and reproductive system. Contaminated sites continue to be found: normal, legal practices caused contamination of dry cleaning sites prior to legislation in the early seventies. An estimated 75 percent of current and former dry cleaning sites are contaminated.

Katherine Burgess, The Wichita Eagle

Cotton Tees

J. Crew has been in some serious trouble, with sales falling every single one of the past 15 quarters. To counteract that, the company has made an enormous bet on cheaper tees. J. Crew purchased 1 million yards of cotton, a bulk purchase that will allow them to cut the price of their T-shirts from $29.50 to $14.50. If that juices sales, the bulk order will be a success, but there’s a chance the company will be left with way too much cotton if it flops.

Khadeeja Safdar, The Wall Street Journal

Russian Retirements

Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced a plan to hike the retirement age for state pensions during the World Cup, but now that gears are in motion to enact the policy, Russians are getting ticked. The move would increase the retirement age for men five years to 65 and raise the age for women eight years to 63. Americans, who must work until age 66 to qualify for Social Security, may not see the issue here, but it all comes down to lifespan. American men and women live an average 76 years and 81 years, respectively. In Russia that age is 67 for men and 77 for women.

Leonid Ragozin, Bloomberg


Researchers have found a coral reef 160 miles off the coast of South Carolina that is at least 85 miles in length. The reef remained hidden so long due to its depth and distance from the coast. The corals have potentially been growing in the area for hundreds of thousands of years.

Chris D’Angelo, HuffPost

Autonomous Cars

Toyota inked a $500 million deal to put Uber’s self-driving car tech into the Sienna minivan. This would plausibly open up the vehicle as a ride-hailing cab at some later time, assuming all goes well. Uber has similar deals with Volvo and with Daimler.

Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica

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