Numlock News: August 7, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Music Money

Stop the presses. I don’t mean to alarm everyone, but I think the music business might be taking advantage of artists. I know this will come as a shock to everyone, but of the $43 billion in U.S. music sales, the actual artists only took home $5.1 billion of that, or 12 percent. Labels and publishers got around $10 billion. What’s next, you’re going to tell me that life on the road can be difficult and sometimes musicians do a drug?

Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Paint It Black And Take It Back

Black house paints are selling really well in 2018, which I think is thanks to all the emo kids finally having the kind of discretionary incomes they only dreamed of when Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge charted in 2004. Tricorn Black, a deep ebony that is one of Sherwin-Williams’ most popular black paints, is the 12th most popular paint in the United States in 2018, up from 33rd place in 2017. Like all trends, the Canadians are a year ahead of us, and Tricorn Black is the 6th most popular color of 2018 after not even making the top 50 in 2017.

Laura Fenton, Curbed

Warrior Bots Designed To Defeat Mankind’s Greatest

A team of bots defeated a lineup of former professional Dota 2 players in a best-of-three exhibition game, a milestone when it comes to computers beating the best in the world at a difficult team-based game. The OpenAI Five team trains against itself and gets approximately 180 years of playtime every day. Just what we needed, a computer optimized to defeat some of mankind’s finest tactical minds in a battle game.

Jamie Rigg, Engadget

Celebrity Posthumous Reading

Of the 1,300 people Wikipedia considered notable who died in the past 3 years, 84 people saw their encyclopedia pages receive over a half-million page views in the subsequent 48 hours after their passing. The posthumous surge in interest in people like Anthony Bourdain, Prince, Carrie Fisher and David Bowie can regularly dwarf even the most popular news events, from inaugurations to royal weddings or championships. In many cases, it takes months for posthumous interest to return to previous levels.

Russell Goldenberg, The Pudding

Users Who Are Great At MoviePass

MoviePass, a blessed company that is essentially improvising a business model as it goes along, announced it is abandoning plans to raise prices from about $10 to about $15 per month, and instead it will cap the number of films subscribers can see each month at three, down from “however many days there are in that month.” The company claims only 15 percent of MoviePass subscribers see more than three films per month. The company pays full price whenever a subscriber sees a movie. The company says that tickets bought by its subscribers account for as much as 6 percent of box office receipts.

Tim Bradshaw, The Financial Times

Foreign Languages

In the United States, 20 percent of students are learning a foreign language. This is as high as 51 percent in New Jersey and as low as 9 percent in Arkansas, Arizona and New Mexico. No, before you ask, Dothraki is not a foreign language, and neither is Klingon. Even still, European students are drastically beating American students at learning other languages: the median percentage of students learning a second language in a European country is 92 percent, which goes as low as 64 percent in Belgium and as high as 100 percent in France and Austria.

Kat Devlin, Pew Research Center

Monuments to Traitors

Since a rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia led to the death of a counter-protester last year, at least 45 Confederate monuments in 27 cities across the country have come down. The monuments, many of which were erected during the Jim Crow era, undergo an uncertain afterlife following their removal from the public square. Museums don’t want hagiographies to the Confederacy, or don’t have the funding to take care of them. The dustbin of history the statues are inevitably condemned to is often kept secret, lest someone try to break in or steal them.

Noah Caldwell, NPR

Campaign Funds

This will likely be the most expensive midterm election cycle ever. Democrats raised about $975 million and Republicans have raised about $713 million. Looking at House candidates alone — who historically raise 40 percent of funding in the last few months — this could very well be a $1.5 billion midterm election cycle.

Daniel Uria, UPI

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