Numlock News: December 7, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Have a wonderful weekend!

A Pass With Which One Views Movies

MoviePass has reportedly sobered up and will roll out a new pricing plan, ending the party. The new model starts at $9.95 in inexpensive regions for a plan that allows subscribers to see three movies in a month, with restrictions. Then it jumps to $19.95 per month to see those three movies in IMAX or 3D and up to $24.95 to see movies without time restrictions. This is an attempt to rebrand from a company that appears to be burning down to one that appears to be burning down, but so it may be reborn, phoenix-like. Let’s see if they make it: they recently reported $6.2 million cash on hand, but saw losses of $137.2 million last quarter.

Brent Lang, Variety

Woman’s Place Is In The House

The incoming 116th Congress will include at minimum 105 Democratic women and 19 Republican women. That enormous disparity is also reflected in where women who contributed to congressional candidates gave their money: in the 2018 cycle, women gave more than $159 million to Democratic women running for Congress, compared to $19 million given by women to female Republicans. While women accounted for less than a third of Democrats running for congress, they received over half of all contributions from women.

Emma Newburger, CNBC

Debt Free

Judith Jones and Carolyn Kenyon raised $12,500 to buy up medical debts from creditors on the rate of a half-cent on the dollar. Then they forgave that debt, meaning that roughly 1,284 people in the red because of a medical procedure were discharged of the total $1.5 million they owed. The charity R.I.P. Medical Debt makes it particularly easy to forgive enormous and ridiculous amounts charged by the U.S. medical industry. Overall, 11 percent of Americans have had to turn to charity for relief from crushing medical debt.

Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Press Releases From Press Released

The nominees for the Golden Globes have been announced! Vice, an Adam McKay film about Dick Cheney, got the most with 6 nominations. The Golden Globes are a process by which famous people are given elaborate paperweights by a group of 88 reporters whose work nobody reads. When it comes to the Oscar race, the Golden Globes are basically the film version of the Iowa Caucus: they don’t really mean all that much, the people who pick the winners are easily bribed with gift baskets or corn subsidies, and to win you have to spend an inordinate amount of time shaking hands with fanboys who — god willing — you will never have to see again.

Brooks Barnes, The New York Times

Fun announcement: It’s awards season! As anyone who followed my work at FiveThirtyEight knows, I’m a huge fan of predicting the Oscars. I’m continuing that coverage in The Numlock Awards Supplement, a popup newsletter that I’m writing for the season with Michael Domanico of the Not Her Again podcast. If you like the Academy Awards and the race to win them, check it out here!


Despite every bone in my body wishing that restaurants would just phase out the unfair, cumbersome and problematic tradition of tipping and just pay their employees a good wage, the body of evidence shows that restaurants and their employees generally benefit from the process. A study analyzing Joe’s Crab Shack locations that went tip-free in 2015 found their ratings on Google and Yelp were 0.24 to 0.45 points lower than locations with tipping. Another study found that tipping — by deferring a portion of the cost of the meal off the menu price — makes consumers think food is less expensive. And in an industry where turnover is one and a half times higher than the private sector average already, a single restaurant rolling out an anomalous pay shift can make talented servers find easy work elsewhere.

Nikita Richardson, Grub Street

Drug Scarcity

The number of drugs that are scarce in the U.S. has risen from 55 in mid-2017 to 110 scarce pharmaceuticals as of September, according to the FDA. This has led to prices rising: a milliliter dose of Pitocin, which accelerates labor and helps women recover from childbirth, costs $3.60 wholesale today compared to $1.68 previously. Manufacturing sterile and injectable drugs is really hard and supply chain hiccups can make it hard to ensure a consistent stockpile of necessary medications.

Cynthia Koons and Riley Griffin, Bloomberg


Revenues for console gaming are projected to grow 15.2 percent this year, as the ascendance of mobile gaming — a $60 billion, 2.1 billion user juggernaut — is not actually taking a bite out of the pie. This may be good for console companies. As cloud computing rises in popularity and potentially renders the Xbox, Nintendo and PlayStation consoles themselves obsolete, the durability of the business is going to be their potential livesavers.

Leo Lewis, The Financial Times

Dossiers On Kids

A new report from England’s children’s commissioner calculates that by the time a child turns 18, there will be 70,000 posts about them on the internet. On one hand, that is a staggering number that raises serious questions about the expectation of privacy for minors in an age when the panopticon is prepared to assimilate us all. On the other hand, I wish concerned politicians the very best of luck in convincing new parents to not share pictures of their babies on the internet. Still, it’s worth taking a pause before posting kids information — like name or date of birth — on places like Facebook. The bank Barclays estimates that parents posting stuff about their kids on the internet will account for two-thirds of identify fraud by 2030. It’s pretty easy to figure out a favorite book, the street a person grew up on, the name of every pet, a person’s schools or favorite teachers, a city of birth or preferred vacation spot or food when there’s an 18-year running Instagram recording of that info in real-time.

Chavie Lieber, Vox

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