Numlock News: January 13, 2021 • Pancakes, Narcs, Manga

By Walt Hickey

Whistle

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said it received 6,900 tips alleging white collar crimes in the fiscal year that ended in September. That is a 31 percent jump over the previous cycle. Narcing on a crooked colleague can lead to a pretty healthy payday, given the SEC program of paying whistle-blowers a percentage of the take from a successful investigation, and for some reason back in March people had a lot more time on their hands for some reason! Over the course of the pandemic, the SEC paid out $330 million in awards, with $114 million going to one person in October. While the SEC absolutely never reveals the name of whistle-blowers, if Gary from Accounts Receivable starts snapping Instagrams from David Geffen’s yacht that’s his business.

Matt Robinson and Benjamin Bain, Bloomberg

Breakfast

Breakfast as a concept has been a rare winner of the pandemic, with the absence of commutes for many leading to a more reliable pursuit of the first meal of the day. In 2020, home consumption of pancakes grew 25 percent over 2019, bacon was up 15 percent, and waffles were up 20 percent. Even the $8.5 billion cold cereal category, which had been in decline, bounced back. With the possibility of a return to normal approaching, the makers of those cereals are fretting about how to ensure that people will remain — to use industry jargon — cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

Christopher Doering, Food Dive

996

The 996 office schedule has workers coming in from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. working six days per week, and at many companies in the tech industry in China it’s considered standard. As anyone who has ridden it too hard for too long can attest, that’s really not sustainable for humans, and many are disengaging from the workforce as a result. Of the 8.7 million university graduates produced in China last year, 80 percent surveyed hoped to earn at least 5,000 yuan ($770) a month at their first job, but less than 30 percent ended up getting that number. In a not unsurprising development, men 21 to 30 are in aggregate working less, spending 2.3 more hours per week on leisure activities from 2014 to 2017 than they had a decade prior and working 1.8 fewer hours.

Shuli Ren, Bloomberg

Corn

The USDA came out with a surprising report on Tuesday that cut the 2020 national average corn yield by 3.8 bushels per acre, which appears to be among the largest revisions on record. This brought the average number of bushels produced per acre to 172, but applied across the country the figure was seriously breathtaking. Nationally, this was a 324 million bushel drop in production, which prompted a pop in the price of corn. Given that pretty much everything you consume, put on your body or purchase in one way or another entails corn as a precursor, this is pretty big news.

Michelle Rook, AgWeek

Manga

Booming manga sales have pushed Japan’s book market to a rebound, driven by the commercial success of a film based on the Demon Slayer manga series as well as buoyed sales due to people having more time to sit around and read. Teikoku Databank estimated that the book market was ¥1.22 trillion ($11.7 billion), which was 80 percent of the value 10 year ago, but as of the end of 2020 was ¥1.24 trillion ($11.9 billion), the first increase in years. As of November 2020, 10 bookshops had filed for bankruptcy in Japan, less than the record low of 15 in 2001.

Rui Ebisawa, Japan Forward

Training A Dataset

Seismologists prospecting for platinum in Canada are looking for evidence of the mineral by recording the hum of freight trains, providing a cheap way to image the shallow parts of the Earth’s crust. According to a presentation given to the American Geophysical Union, moving freight trains generate tremors equivalent to a magnitude 2 earthquake. Using an array of 1,000 seismometers 8 to 15 kilometers around a railway over the course of 30 days, the researchers were able to derive three-dimensional images of the seismic velocity distribution in the area.

Rachel Berkowitz, Physics Today

Streams

Spending on steaming services and software is projected to hit $112 billion this year, up 11 percent over 2020. Last year saw an enormous burst in spending, and according to the Consumer Technology Association was up 31 percent over 2019. Spending on streaming subscriptions was projected to hit $41 billion, plus another $10 billion from music, audiobook and podcast streaming subscriptions. Quibi valiantly gave its life for this, lest we forget.

Carolyn Giardina, The Hollywood Reporter

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