By Walt Hickey
Sharknado-Related Legal Drama
Tara Reid is suing the production company behind the six films of the Sharknado franchise for punitive damages of $100 million. Reid claims her contract includes a provision barring the use of her likeness in products related to gambling, tobacco and alcohol. Lo and behold, there is evidently Sharknado branded alcohol, slot machines and video gambling devices. Reid received $300,000 total to appear in the fifth and sixth entries in the franchise, a disaster story in which a tornado full of sharks strikes. I think we can all agree that it was only a matter of time before the producers were held accountable for their many crimes. Personally, thank god for the Sharknado lawsuit, I’ve been getting the vibe we’re nearing the endgame of the MoviePass saga and I’ve been on the hunt for a new obsession.
Last year, 70 percent of all frauds reported to the Federal Trade Commission were perpetrated by phone, approximately 558,000 calls. For comparison, frauds that used email to bamboozle their targets accounted for a mere 9 percent. The average phone fraud victim lost $700 last year, for a total loss of $332 million.
Aquaman is killing it in China, grossing $93.6 million in its opening weekend. That’s the largest opening for a DC comic book adaptation to date, which is staggering. After decades of mockery — excision from Justice League adaptations, being smeared as a third-tier bargain bin superhero and being the only vigilante who makes Hawkeye look widely respected — Aquaman is doing 78 percent better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice did, which is a film that literally has both Batman and Superman in its title.
U.S. laboratories kept 76,000 research primates last year according to the United States Department of Agriculture, with many of the animals coming from China, the top supplier of macaques. A new complaint says 29 of the world’s largest airlines refuse to fly these research animals, even though the carriers will fly such animals if they’re pets or bound for zoos. On one hand, the airlines are attempting to avoid alienating customers who support animal rights. On the other, the disgraceful bias against flying monkeys perpetuated since their deplorable portrayal in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz must end.
U.S. Support For The War In Yemen
Errors in accounting mean that the United States has subsidized Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates’ war in Yemen far more than originally believed. The U.S. has provided mid-air refueling for Saudi-led coalition aircraft since March 2015, but the coalition hasn’t actually paid for all the fuel, likely costing tens of millions of dollars. What’s more, there was never actually an official servicing agreement in force with Saudi Arabia. Since October 2014, 7.5 million gallons of aerial refueling has been provided to the UAE and at least 1 million to the Saudis.
This Sunday’s subscriber special was with Aaron Gordon, who writes Signal Problems, a newsletter about the real problems behind the New York City subway. It is a personal fave. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
As of September, housing prices in the U.S. were 53 percent higher than they were when the market bottomed out in 2012. A house that sold for $200,000 back then would fetch about $300,000 today, which is the third-largest boom since 1913. The second largest boom ran from 1942 to 1947, when real prices of existing homes rose 60 percent. The market cooled off toward the end there, but that’s not always how it ends: the largest boom ran from 1997 to 2006, when existing home prices rose 74 percent, and then the economy exploded. So this could be fun!
A new poll found that 47 percent of voters think there is not enough regulation of large banks, with another 40 percent saying that Wall Street was inadequately regulated. This will likely influence political messaging in 2020. In other news, the largest U.S. banks are now considering arguing that Congress accidentally ended the Volcker Rule, for all intents and purposes, by including a double negative in a recent legislative tweak. The rule was passed in the wake of the financial crisis and limited the ability for banks to trade for their own accounts.
Electric Car Fuel
States may need to put some serious work in on their electrical grids in order to make an electric car boom possible. If all passenger cars in Texas were electrified today, the state would need 110 terawatt-hours more of electricity per year, which is approximately the annual electricity consumption of 11 million homes and also a 30 percent increase over current consumption. California might require 50 percent more electricity if all cars went off gasoline, needing to generate an additional 120 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. Given the status of their existing grids, Texas could make that work, but California couldn’t without additional infrastructure projects.
Correction (Dec. 10, 2018): The Wizard of Oz came out in 1939, not 1929.
Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too!
Previous Sunday special editions: Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms · NIMBYs · Fall 2018 Sports Analytics · The Media · Omega-3 · Mattress Troubles · Conspiracy Theorists · Beaches · Bubbles · NYC Trash · Fish Wars · Women’s Jeans · Video Stores
Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at email@example.com. Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.