Numlock News: December 19, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Heist Movie

Yesterday MoviePass convinced its creditors to cut the debt it owed down from $44.5 million to $11.3 million, with a further chance to reduce the debt to $5.7 million should the company pay back its creditors early. On one hand, this is a savvy corporate move: the company no longer owes money in the form of debt that could be converted into stock, which means it can now raise money by selling the 2.6 billion shares it had to hold on to to satisfy those debts. On the other hand, let’s take a step back and realize what happened here. Creditors may have just taken a write down on $38.8 million worth of movies, meaning that MoviePass just Robin Hooded the equivalent of 4.3 million movie tickets from private equity firms to moviegoers. In possibly related news, MoviePass Films literally signed Bruce Willis to a three-picture deal the very same day. There is a non-zero chance he will lead the forthcoming heist movie about what MoviePass just pulled.

Troy Wolverton, Business Insider

But My Product Is Special!

As the trade war with China continues, many companies and industries think that their product is so special that they can ask the government to exclude their imports from the $34 billion worth of duties. The latest company to want this is Uber, which wants the 1,000 electric bikes it’s having manufactured in China every day to not get slapped with a 25 percent tariff. They need to get in line: the administration is considering 10,800 exclusion requests, with 664 being reviewed by customs and 1,487 denied as of Dec. 14. Everyone is so gung-ho about kicking off an international trade war until the minute they realize their product is about to be drafted, and not everyone can just run to Canada like the Maine lobstermen do.

Eric Newcomer and Mark Niquette, Bloomberg

Good News Nerds

A 44-year old law that bans the possession of nunchucks in New York State has been struck down. The law was passed due to fears that youth would be inspired by martial arts films and create mayhem, when in fact they just created anime forums and made Tumblr fan art. This means that 50 percent of the weapons utilized by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are in fact legal; New York has some weird knife-related laws that Raphael’s sai and Leonardo’s katanas legally are dubious at best. I know this information because I was once frequented anime forums and liked Tumblr fan art.

Deepti Hajela, The Associated Press

Fluoride in the Water

In 2013, the city of Windsor’s council voted 8-3 to stop putting flouride in the city water supply. Since then, the percentage of children with tooth decay or requiring urgent dental care increased 51 percent between 2011-12 and 2016-17. In related news, the Windsor City Council voted yesterday to reintroduce water fluoridation with a vote of 8-3.

CBC News

Southerners

A poll of residents in 11 Southern states found that, when asked about what to do with statues of leaders and politicians who supported racial segregation, 30 percent wanted to leave them as is, 26 percent wanted to add a marker offering further historical interpretation, 26 percent wanted them taken down and sent to a museum, while 13 percent wanted them removed completely. The response was understandably more muted among black respondents, of whom 62 percent would prefer they be removed and sent to either a museum or a scrap heap. Meanwhile, 44 percent of white southerners viewed the confederate flag somewhat or very favorably, compared to 58 percent of black southerners who viewed it very unfavorably.

Winthrop Poll

“Ethical” Investing

Exchange-traded funds that purport to invest in environmental, social and governance goals have seen assets surge, growing 340 percent since 2013 compared to the 109 percent growth in the total U.S. ETF market. The problem? Leaving out entire industries like tobacco, gambling, oil and gas can hurt performance, prompting some fund managers to cram stuff into “ethical” funds that may go against the purported aims of the socially responsible investment. If an arms manufacturer has some women on its board, or a sweetened beverage marketer hasn’t eradicated a rainforest recently, or an apparel manufacturer doesn’t technically own all those slaves, some funds will greenwash and throw it in the mix.

Rachel Evans, Bloomberg

NASA

NASA gets about 0.5 percent of planned federal spending, but people tend to estimate that figure to be considerably higher. A poll (which I ran) found that respondents not only estimated NASA’s share of the budget to be higher (a trimmed average estimate of 6.4 percent of the budget), the figure people provided for their ideal funding of the space agency was higher than the 0.5 percent current level of 85 percent of the time.

Dave Mosher and Samantha Lee, Business Insider

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