Numlock News: December 16, 2019 • Eggnog, Jumanji, Habeas Corpus?

By Walt Hickey

The Second-Most Dangerous Game

Jumanji: The Next Level made $60.1 million in its first weekend of release domestically and another $85.7 million overseas, bringing its global total to $212.8 million. Sony had only projected a $35 million domestic opening for the film, which stars Dwayne Johnson and Jack Black so this is a considerable beat. The film tells the story of a multiplayer video game mixing with elderly relatives and, despite that, still miraculously manages to keep it PG-13 language-wise.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Television

The average price of a 50-inch 4K HD television was $467 in 2017, down 80 percent for the price for the same television in 2012. From 2018 to 2019, the average price of a television slipped 20 percent, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. There are a few major reasons for this: for one, increased competition in the space from a number of new entrants to the market over the past decade, plus reduced demand for televisions amid competition from streaming services and other screens. The reason to be worried is the third reason televisions are cheap, namely that smart televisions can track what owners watch and also show those buyers ads over the lifetime of the product, meaning that manufacturers are making money off their customers years after they leave the Best Buy.

Noah Kulwin, The Outline

Nog

Over the past 12 months, Americans spent $185 million on egg nog, something to the tune of 53.5 million bottles moved. The egg nog business is in decline, especially as Americans consume less milk than ever before (consumption was down 42 percent over the past 50 years) and also presumably because it became more culturally acceptable to just drink whiskey at Christmas rather than having to hide it discreetly in some sort of clever egg-cream-sugar concoction.

Melinda Fakuade, Vox

Dragnet

Two warrants obtained by federal investigators trying to solve a string of arson cases in Wisconsin appear to have produced the highest number of results for a single geofenced search of cell phone location data ever. Basically, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives got two warrants to get Google to give them information about user activity within an area over the course of a couple hours. That request — nine hours of phone data in an area 29,400 square meters, or roughly 5.5 football fields — produced results for 1,494 devices. That’s a problem for privacy advocates, who see an issue when at bare minimum 1,493 people are being searched despite not being arsonists.

Kate Cox, Ars Technica

Hitched

A new survey illustrates one key dimension in which young people are less overtly religious than their parents or grandparents — who marries them. Not like, their husband or wife. But who the officiant overseeing the proceedings is. Among those aged 60 and up, 60 percent said they were married by a religious leader in a religious setting, 13 percent by a religious leader in a non-religious setting, 25 percent by a Justice of the peace and just 2 percent by a friend or family member in a non-religious location. Compare that to married respondents aged 18 to 34: 24 percent were married by a friend or family member, and just 36 percent by a religious leader in a religious setting. On one hand this is a sobering statistic on the diminishing role of the church in the lives of young people, but on the other hand I am a legal officiant in the city of New York and have officiated two weddings and it totally rules.

Daniel A. Cox, Jacqueline Clemence and Eleanor O’Neil, American Enterprise Institute

Crypto

In December 2018, the founder of a cryptocurrency exchange died. The issue for the company, Quadriga, was that the founder was the only person who knew how to access $145 million in crypto, which since then has been frozen. Over 100,000 users of the currency were instantly in the lurch, and a lawsuit regarding the mysterious and sudden death of someone with access to inordinate digital wealth has reached its logical conclusion: yeah, the users are requesting the Canadian government exhume the remains of the dead founder to ensure it’s really him. Independent audits have subsequently found serious problems with how Quadriga was managed, and while nobody’s saying it quite so directly, if one were to make a list of “people likely to bug out and get off the grid taking anything not nailed down,” right near the tippy top of that list would be “crypto exchange owner in over their head legally.”

Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Data Breach

Hard drives containing personal data for 29,000 U.S. Facebook employees were stolen from an employee’s car. The drives — which were unencrypted — contained payroll information that included bank data, compensation information, and the last four digits of Social Security numbers of Facebook employees who worked at the company in 2018. Gosh, that must be so awful having personal details exposed thanks a Facebook decision that made security a low priority, that must be terrible, I have no idea how those affected must feel right now.

Kurt Wagner, Bloomberg

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This Sunday I spoke to Maya Kosoff all about her great story about why graphing calculators have been the same price for years, and how that’s a huge problem for poorer students. Maya’s got a great media newsletter worth checking out.


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