Numlock News: February 12, 2019

By Walt Hickey

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Oh God No

The Pew Research Center has discovered that it is possible to set a bar so impossibly low that 39 percent of white people still manage to trip over it. Pew asked if it was acceptable for a white person to use makeup to darken their skin so as to appear to be a different race as part of a Halloween costume, which is better known as blackface and is a universally terrible idea. The correct answer, “never,” was selected by 37 percent of American adults, and an answer I can barely put up with, “rarely,” got 16 percent of votes. All told, 34 percent of adults did not get this quiz right and said it was sometimes or always acceptable, including 39 percent of white respondents. Those aged 18 to 29 — a generation raised on Fred Armisen playing Barack Obama on SNL on 30 occasions, all the way up to May 2012, and who still have extremely mixed feelings about that fact — were most likely to say it was unacceptable.

Anna Brown, Pew Research Center


The Iowa Democratic Party has proposed allowing Iowans to participate — by phones or smart devices — in the 2020 presidential caucuses virtually. Right now, caucus-goers have to show up on-site to support a candidate, which is pretty dumb, but let’s be honest no act has ever been made more circumspect, secure or trustworthy by integrating a smartphone into the process. There will be 30 days of comment, and the crux is that no matter how many Iowans participate virtually, their votes will be counted as a flat 10 percent of turnout per congressional district according to the initial pitch, because the democratic process is best improved by more ideas drawn up on cocktail napkins.

Thomas Beaumont and Scott McFetridge, The Associated Press

Grammy Bump

Songs performed during the Grammy Awards on Sunday saw a 480 percent increase in digital download sales on Monday. Music’s biggest night — well, second biggest, music’s biggest night is going to definitely be when Lady Gaga performs “Shallow” at the Oscars — saw massive hits for H.E.R.’s “Hard Place” (up 102,000 percent), Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow” (up 9,430 percent) and Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke” (up 2,771 percent). Even the inimitable Dolly Parton got a boost, with her songs up 718 percent.

Keith Caulfield, Billboard


Reddit has raised $300 million in its most recent round of funding. That puts it at a $3 billion valuation. Half of that is from Chinese tech heavyweight Tencent, which joins previous investors in this funding round. Today Reddit has 330 million monthly active users and half of them are aged 18 to 24, which makes them prime targets for advertisers. The company’s CEO said the company can assure advertisers that “you are going to have a positive experience on Reddit,” thus confirming my suspicions that none of these people have ever gone on Reddit.

Julia Boorstin, CNBC


A printing company employee allegedly stole $240,000 worth of printer ink to then sell online at below cost. The employee allegedly stole the ink and then flipped it on eBay. The cartridges stolen go for $1,000 per case, and police seized $220,000 worth of ink from the man’s storage unit, which based on the last time I had to buy printer ink I assume was the size of a small PO box.

Libor Jany, Star Tribune

Rebel Alliance

On Saturday, 2.9 million people tuned into the inaugural day of the Alliance of American Football, an eight-team league which is trying to capitalize on the fact that Americans love football, but also that there is none of it until August. Next year the XFL, a second competing league vying for a slice of the pie controlled entirely by the NFL, will kick off under the management of Vince McMahon, whose family operates the WWE. For perspective, that 2.9 million people tuning into CBS beats the NBA’s ratings on ABC.

Eben Novy-Williams, Bloomberg

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Drop All The Games On An Island And Make Them Fight

Apex Legends, a game developed by Electronic Arts to compete with Fortnite, has had a successful launch with 10 million players signing on to play within three days of its launch. On Thursday, there were 1 million gamers logged on. Gameplay is fairly rudimentary: 100 people are dropped on an island and they fight to the death. Based on EA’s rule of thumb that free-to-play games make $10 per monthly active user, Apex Legends could add $100 million to EA revenue for this coming fiscal year.

Arjun Penchadar, Reuters


Over half of U.S. farm households lost money farming in the past few years. In 2018, the median farm income for U.S. farm households was -$1,548. That’s right, the median income was a loss of fifteen hundred dollars. U.S. farm debt hit more than $409 billion last year, the largest sum in four decades. Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings (which is how farmers declare bankruptcy) are on the rise in the past several years. It kind of sucks that you can’t really make money growing food anymore. After all, growing food is so passé, based on the invisible hand of the market, the real value to society is in selling ads to college kids arguing on Reddit, or setting up a digital island for teenagers to fight each other, or stealing printer ink.

Jesse Newman and Jacon Bunge, The Wall Street Journal

The Oscars are in mere weeks! Want to have the inside track on who’s ahead? Check out the awards coverage in the Numlock Awards Supplement, and if you’re just tuning in start here.

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite

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