Numlock News: January 29, 2020 • Mattresses, Sneakers, Ice Sculptures

By Walt Hickey

Live Freeze Or Die

A New Hampshire woman is suing her neighbor — the whimsical winter wonderland of Ice Castles, a seasonal attraction of ice structures — over flooding her basement last year when all the ice melted. The suit, which seeks $100,000 in damages, is predominantly aiming at making sure the problem doesn’t happen again this year, seeking to avoid the 16 inches of water — 15,500 gallons — she claims flooded her basement. Ice Castles — which did require 8.5 million gallons of water to construct in 2018 — vehemently denies the allegations, claiming instead that the water in the basement came not from their elaborate and striking sculptures, but rather a large nearby watershed. The mighty North Woodstock Board of Selectmen is siding with the attraction in the fight, meaning that depending on how this shakes out Disney+ is definitely bidding on the movie rights.

Todd Bookman, New Hampshire Public Radio


Chipotle has been hit with a $1.3 million fine from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts due to an investigation that turned up an estimated 13,253 child labor violations in its Bay State restaurants, the largest child labor penalty ever issued by the state. The fine covers violations like failing to keep accurate records and pay timely wages, making employees under 18 work past midnight or work more than 48 hours per week, and hiring minors without work permits. Including the $500,000 payout to the state youth worker fund, the settlement will be closer to $2 million when all is said and done. If you’re going to charge a buck fifty for guac, you kind of have to pay your labor.

Associated Press

Restless Sleep

Casper, a direct to consumer mattress company, is embarking on a roadshow to investors ahead of its IPO on February 5. The startup said its valuation was $750 million on Monday, a steep drop from the $1.1 billion it was valued at after a funding round last year. Here’s one issue that’s caught prospective buyers’ eyes: Casper does not, in fact, make mattresses. They hired Elite Foam, an Atlanta-based company, to produce the mattresses, and later added another manufacturer in Boston to bolster growth. But Elite Foam was bought by Leggett & Platt in Missouri for $1.25 billion last January, meaning that Casper is in bed with the $4.65 billion-in-revenue industry behemoth. Leggett & Platt also supplies parts to rivals Leesa, Serta Simmons, Sealy and more. In short, Casper finds itself in a position where it does not produce its core product, which is going to be a possible pitfall moving forward to say the least.

Josh Kosman, The New York Post


Andy Samberg’s film Palm Springs has set a new record for the biggest sale in the history of the Sundance Film Festival, with Hulu and independent distributor Neon announcing the comedy was purchased for $17,500,000.69, which is 69 cents higher than the previous record of $17.5 million that The Birth of a Nation was bought for in 2016. This is the greatest entertainment news story of all time and I will not be taking questions thank you for your time.

Matt Donnelly, Variety


Pew Research Center did what everyone has always kind of wondered but never had the guts to straight up rank, which is which religions really have the best sermons. To be sure, all parties surveyed were pretty content with their own religion’s sermons, and 90 percent of Christian respondents said they were very or somewhat satisfied with what they hear on Sundays. Concentrating on those who are very satisfied, though, Catholics stand out as being under-served, with just 32 percent of Catholics saying they were very satisfied with the homily. Compare that to 45 percent of mainline Protestants, 54 percent of historically black Protestant faiths, and 61 percent of Evangelicals. An earlier analysis found that the Sunday sermon clocked in at just 14 minutes on average for Catholics, compared to 25 minutes for mainline Protestants and maxing out at 54 minutes for historically black Protestant churches.

Claire Gecewicz and Dennis Quinn, Pew Research Center


Sneakerheads, the hobbyists who collect, maintain, sell and trade pricey or limited-edition sneakers, are in the grips of some soul-searching amid the shocking death of NBA great Kobe Bryant. To the consternation of some platforms who do not want to be seen as capitalizing in any way on the death of Bryant or helping others to do that, prices for Bryant’s footwear are popping. On StockX, one such platform, prices for the Undefeated Black Mamba sneaker increased from $204 to $765, prices for the Slam Dunk Contest shoe rose 600 percent, $170 to $1,199, prices for the “Vino Pack” shoes increased from $100 to $754 and prices for the Black Mamba Low jumped from $329 to $600. The backlash to the profiteering has been swift, with some platforms cutting off new Bryant products on consignment, and one site Chinese site, Poizon, even suspending 37 accounts amid the outrage.

Rachel Deeley and Chavie Lieber, Business of Fashion


As a person who chose a fairly stats-based career path, here’s something pretty gratifying to hear: A survey of 2,200 adults found that when asked about how concerned they were when it came to gender diversity in award show nominees and winners, just 32 percent said they were concerned and 56 percent said they were not concerned. They were also asked how many women they thought had been nominated for Best Director over that five-year period, with 16 percent saying none, 9 percent correctly saying one, and the other 75 percent saying more than one woman had been nominated in the past five years. But when informed that of the past 25 nominees for Best Director, just one was a woman, that original question about concern saw a 20 point net swing, with 41 percent now expressing concern and 45 percent not concerned anymore. See? Stats are useful for something, at least.

Sarah Shevenock, Morning Consult

This week in the Sunday edition, I spoke to writer Kyle Chayka, the author of the newly released The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism. Kyle's a really great writer whose work has appeared in a number of places I love, and the book is superb, you should check the interview out.

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