Numlock News: December 2, 2019 • Emoji, Disney, Lobsters

By Walt Hickey

Welcome Back!

The Mouse

Frozen 2 made $125.7 million over the course of the five-day Thanksgiving weekend, a new record. It’s now made $287.6 million domestically and $738.6 million globally. The film will almost certainly be the sixth release from Disney in 2019 to make $1 billion worldwide, after Avengers: Endgame, Captain Marvel, The Lion King, Aladdin and Toy Story 4. What’s more, Frozen 2 pushed the Mouse past $3.2 billion in 2019 domestic ticket sales, a new industry record topping the $3.09 billion made in 2018 by small, indie production house… Disney. The company’s 2019 market share is now 31 percent, which is double the second runner-up — Warner Bros. — with a market share of 15 percent. At least their slate is pretty barren through the end of the year, all Disney seems to have on the calendar is a niche documentary film about a bunch of teenagers who join a cult with a dumb name called Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Pamela McClintock, The Hollywood Reporter

Emoji

Emojis are now regularly appearing in court cases: a researcher tracking the appearances of emoji in the American court system has seen plenty of people being held to account over their precise meaning behind an erstwhile eggplant in a group chat. The number of reported court cases that involved emojis jumped from 33 in 2017 to 53 in 2018, and this year should exceed 100. This opens up a number of thrilling and terrifying possibilities. Is now the right time to set up shop as an emoji expert witness, testifying to the precise contextual meaning behind a given peach or X’s for eyes emoticon? Or will we live to see the day when Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts determines what is an appropriate and what is an inappropriate use of 💦, or if 💸 on Venmo may be used as evidence of a bribe.

Stephen Harrison, Slate

Photovoltaics

As solar energy accelerates in usage, already companies are planning for what happens when the solar cells reach the end of their usual life. It’s a long way away, but with millions of tons of photovoltaic modules getting shipped annually, it’s worth thinking about now, at the design process, to guarantee that in a few decades the panels will be highly recyclable when solar panel waste hits 90 million metric tons in 2050. Solar panels supply one percent of global electricity, but the photovoltaic cells use 40 percent of the annual tellurium supply and 15 percent of the silver supply, not to mention a decent chunk of the semiconductor-quality quartz supply. Getting all that back on the other side is important, and European manufacturers have already begun to design recycling processes. A 2008 experiment found recycled silicon saw a 50 percent decrease in energy needed to make a solar panel. Listen, it’s not like solar is the first energy business with a waste problem, but at least they’re working on it well ahead of the issue.

Dustin Mulvaney and Morgan D. Bazilian, Scientific American

Online

Foot traffic in American stores on Black Friday fell 6.2 percent compared to last year, with 2.3 percent more people going to stores on Thanksgiving Day and a considerable bump in online ordering: online sales hit $7.4 billion on Black Friday, according to Adobe Analytics, up from $6.2 billion last year, and projected to make up $170 billion of the $730 billion holiday spending. Brick and mortar shops like Best Buy, Walmart and Target aren’t left out of the fun anymore either, with Target retraining most of its 300,000 workers to make them better at handling online orders in stores. The company has basically made its stores into warehouses for its online sales, as 80 percent of its online orders are sourced from the stores, not the warehouses.

Sarah Nassauer, The Wall Street Journal

Search Engines

In 2008, Google was the top search engine in 30 of the 31 European Economic Areas countries. The one where it was second banana was the Czech Republic, where a local competitor Seznam was on top. The EU said that Google overtook Seznam in 2011, and by the end of 2018 Google had 74 percent of the search market and Seznam had 26 percent in Czechia. That defeat is significant for anti-trust regulators interested in Google’s power to drive competitors out of business. Google stays on top in search for plenty of reasons, but a big one is the $12.6 billion it spends annually on “traffic acquisition costs.” That’s 13 percent of its revenue paid out to mobile carriers, developers and device manufacturers to install Google as the default search engine. Google was estimated to have paid Apple $9.4 billion in 2018 to be the default search on the iPhone, a figure that could be as high as $12.2 billion this year. Seznam lacks that kind of koruna, to put it bluntly.

Alison Griswold, Quartz

Olive Oil

This year, the world will consume 2.909 million metric tons of olive oil, but it will produce 3.217 million metric tons of it. It marks the third out of the past four years when supply significantly exceeded demand, and next year isn’t looking much better with a projected 3.144 million metric tons produced and merely 3.094 million guzzled. That’s led to low prices and those low prices have led to ticked off farmers in Southern Europe and North Africa. In early November, the spot price of 100 kilograms of extra-virgin olive oil hit €213.50, which is 33 percent less than the average for that point in the season. If you want to scoop up that oil at a good price, Americans are out of luck given the 25 percent new tariff on Spanish olive oil. Italian olive oil saw its price drop 29 percent to €412 per 100 kilograms. If only Scorsese had a single sumptuously cooked Italian meal in The Irishman rather than Joe Pesci eating corn flakes we could have pulled out of this pit.

Joe Wallace and Adria Calatayud, The Wall Street Journal

Lobster

It’s been a pretty great decade for Maine lobster fishermen. In a typical year, they haul in up to 70 million pounds of the crustaceans, but the past decade has seen catches that routinely top 120 million pounds. A new study from Maine scientists project a return to normalcy for the lobster business after a period of decline.

Patrick Whittle, The Associated Press

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