Numlock News: August 6, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Global Box Office Juggernaut Winnie The Pooh

Christopher Robin debuted with $25 million domestically at the box office and $4.8 million internationally. It’s the first Disney movie this year to not debut at No. 1 other than A Wrinkle In Time. There is one small issue for the (wonderful) movie, namely that the picture is banned in China. Basically, Winnie the Pooh is blocked on social media in China as a result of an online meme that uncharitably compared the physique of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to the tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff. The bear — which needless to say has a rather consequential part in Christopher Robin — is linked to opposition to the ruling party and thus will not get a release.

Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter and Rebecca Rubin, Variety

Omega-3s

All told, omega-3 supplements are a $15 billion industry that is growing at an annual rate of 7 percent. Here’s the weird part: an analysis of 79 studies with an aggregate 100,000 participants found omega-3 consumption has little or no effect on promoting heart health. In exchange for not doing much of anything, the production of omega-3 supplements relies on boiling schools of small forage fish from the oceans for no discernible health benefit.

Irineo Cabreros, Slate

The Market For Dwayne Johnson’s Movies

Movies starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson crush it in China even if they sputter domestically, and that’s not a bad problem to have: While the North American box office dropped 2.6 percent in the first quarter of 2018, China’s grew 39 percent in the same period. For instance, “Skyscraper” made $25 million domestically in its opening weekend, but pulled in $47.7 million in China. For science, I must know what a movie where Dwayne Johnson co-stars with Winnie the Pooh pulls in China.

Jesse Kinos-Goodin, CBC

Refusal of Service Based On Sexuality

A new poll found that more Americans said that it should be perfectly acceptable for “the owners of wedding-based businesses, such as caterers, florists, and bakers” to refuse to serve segments of the population like same-sex couples based on their religious beliefs. Last year, 41 percent agreed and this year 46 percent do. In 2017, 67 percent of Republicans said vendors should be able to refuse service to gays and lesbians, and today 73 percent said as much.

Alex Vandermaas-Peeler, Daniel Cox, Maxine Najle and Molly Fisch-Friedman, Public Religion Research Institute

Anxiety Books

This past June, sales of books related to anxiety were up over 25 percent year-over-year at Barnes & Noble, the company said. Sales of books related to happiness and how to find that elusive feeling these days climbed 83 percent compared to a year ago. Those interested in these topics are welcome to pre-order my forthcoming self-help book, “How To Not Explode Into A Ball Of Fury When Three Quarters Of A Major Party Would Love To See You And Your Boyfriend Denied A Cake In The Year Of Our Lord 2018, Come On People You Must Admit That Is A Terrible Look.”

Lauren Thomas, CNBC

Starfish

New research that monitored what happened to the rest of the underwater ecosystem when an outbreak of sea star wasting disease wiped out enormous populations of starfish shows just how essential these creatures are to the rest of marine life. When the disease hit British Columbia, it killed 96 percent of the sunflower sea stars. Sea stars hunt small and medium-sized urchins, which in turn eat kelp. When the sea stars died off, the survival rate of medium and small urchins increased 166 percent, and thus the density of kelp forests declined an estimated 30 percent. Without starfish, the whole forest dies.

Chris Iovenko, Hakai Magazine

Elaborate Exercise Bikes

Peloton has sold about a quarter of a million exercise bikes in the past six years, and investors seems to finally be getting what the company is going for. Besides selling the pricey equipment up front — to the tune of $1,995 — the company charges $39 per month for a subscription to live video fitness classes, essentially what if SoulCycle and Netflix had a sweaty and expensive baby. On Friday, the company said it raised $550 million in financing, putting its valuation at about $4 billion.

Erin Griffith, The New York Times

Even More People Wells Fargo Screwed

Wells Fargo said that 625 customers were denied or not offered loan modifications they were, in fact, qualified for. The denials were the result of a miscalculation. As a result, about 400 people were foreclosed on. The error lasted from 2010 to 2015. Despite ruining the financial lives of hundreds of people, I have to warn you that at this point holding your breath until the bank suffers literally any regulatory or legal consequences for its actions is hazardous to your health.

The Associated Press

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