Numlock News: February 19, 2021 • Rating, Skating, Scamming

By Walt Hickey

Have a wonderful weekend!


Enrollment in baccalaureate nursing programs rose 6 percent in 2020 according to a survey of 900 nursing schools, with hundreds of thousands of people jumping into nursing programs amid an unprecedented need and visibility for nurses. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing there were 250,856 people enrolled in nursing programs last year, and two-year associate nursing programs are reportedly seeing a similar bump. Right now there are roughly 3 million registered nursed in the U.S., and employment was projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, outpacing the 4 percent average growth across other occupations.

Michelle Andrews, Kaiser Health News

We'll Make It Happen, We'll Turn It Around

Despite repeated and unrelenting efforts on my part to get all my friends to watch the figure skating anime Yuri!!! on ICE during quarantine, the sport of figure skating is in a difficult spot in the U.S. The Olympics ladies short program in 1994 had 48.5 million viewers and was the sixth-highest rated event in television history, but figure skating has slipped from the national conversation since. In 2014, just 21.4 million people tuned in to any of the 11 days of figure skating at Sochi’s Olympic Games. A similar dip in viewership was seen for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, with viewership falling from 6.8 million in 1998 to 4.5 million in 2018. The professional figure skating scene, once a viable career for many pros in exhibitions, has all but dried up, and the new complications added to the scoring system have turned some viewers off. Not to mention the expense: while other countries send top skaters to publicly-funded academies to shore up their athletic talent, in the U.S. parents have to be affluent to keep their kids on the ice, and in 2013, less than 3 percent of U.S. figure skating member competed above the pre-juvenile level.

Rebecca Jennings, Vox


Irving Azoff, best known as the manager of the Eagles, has bought a majority interest in The Beach Boys that would value the assets between $100 million and $200 million. This is not as simple as other deals where an entity buys a classic rock band’s music rights or library; Azoff has bought the band’s music, an archive of videos, photos and interviews, the members’ images, likenesses and social media accounts — effectively buying The Beach Boys lock, stock and barrel. The band has been somewhat notoriously a constant shambolic mess, with the members feuding as recently as New Year’s, but if anyone can wrangle a troubled group of personalities and get their songs selling Kias or whatever, it’s definitely the guy who made the Eagles happen I guess.

Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Romance Scams

A new analysis from the Federal Trade Commission pegs the volume of losses to romance scams — where a scammer impersonates some who is interested romantically in a mark — at $304 million last year, up from $202 million in 2019. Exacerbated by a pandemic that made “meet a random stranger in person” into a liability, web-based scammers had a field day, with the average loss sustained by a victim at $2,500. There is no single type of victim of the scams, but the most-commonly targeted victims were between the ages of 40 and 69, but the group aged 20 to 29 had twice as many reports as in 2019, and those aged 70 and over had an average loss of $9,475. What is surprising is where the faux-paramours stake out targets: most of the reports — 5,924 — cited Facebook or Instagram as the scene of the scam, far more than the 2,276 reports that mentioned one of 19 dating apps.

Emma Fletcher, Federal Trade Commission, and Catalin Cimpanu, ZDNet

New Year

China’s Lunar New Year long holiday weekend produced $1.2 billion in ticket sales, with Detective Chinatown 3 bringing in $550 million, Hi, Mom with $422 million and A Writer’s Odyssey with $83.7 million. This effectively means that their box office made a tenth of the global revenue made in all of 2020 in six days. While that breaks all sorts of records, it is pretty much on pace with China’s box office of 2019 and 2018, when it also broke the ¥10 billion threshold in mid-February. The forthcoming year may present issues with the film pipeline, as there’s not much coming by way of imports due to Hollywood’s skittishness to release top-flight films while America’s enduring a pandemic, and even a film that starts shooting today wouldn’t be released until October.

Rebecca Davis, Variety


This year only 44 percent of high schoolers who filled out a Common Application to colleges included SAT or ACT scores, down from 77 percent in the 2019-2020 application season. The backlash to standardized testing has existed as long as there has been standardized testing, and many universities have made the exams optional for the current junior class. What’s disconcerting is that those who didn’t include an exam were disproportionately likely to come from households where neither parent has a Bachelor’s degree: 49.3 percent of common app applicants with a parent with a BA or higher sent in an SAT or ACT score, higher than the 30.1 percent rate among kids who didn’t have a parent with a BA.

Janet Lorin, Bloomberg


Trustpilot, a site where people can review businesses, released its first transparency report in 14 years of operation, right before the review site is reportedly considering a public listing. Of 39 million reviews posted on the platform in 2020, 2.2 million — 5.7 percent — had to be removed because they were fake or harmful, 1.5 million were deleted because they set off their fraud detection software and 660,000 were taken down manually. Of the 469,000 suspicious reviews that businesses flagged as suspicious, Trustpilot ended up taking down 62 percent of them.

Leo Kelion, BBC News

Last Sunday, I spoke to Dr. Annelies Goger who wrote “Apprenticeships are an overlooked solution for creating more access to quality jobs” at Brookings. We talked all about the ways that expanding apprenticing in the U.S. can meaningfully impact people’s lives and expand mobility in the economy. It was a really interesting conversation, and you can find Annelies at Brookings and on Twitter.

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