Numlock News: January 3, 2019

By Walt Hickey

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Chicken Soup for the Venture Capitalist’s Soul

Ashton Kutcher, the former host of Punk’d and star of That 70’s Show, has sold his stake in feel-good media company A Plus to Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, a company founded in 2014 to capitalize on that series of anthologies that sold ultra-well in the nineties. Kutcher’s stake — sold for $2.69 million — values the digital firm at $15 million. Setting that transaction aside, Ashton Kutcher selling a company to Chicken Soup for the Soul is the single most 1998 thing that has happened in digital media since AOL merged with Yahoo! in 2017.

Todd Spangler, Variety


Germans love cash and are more dependent on notes and coins than many neighbors. The average German wallet has €103 in it, higher than the rest of the eurozone; Austrian wallets have an average of €89 in them, Italian wallets have €69 in them, and the French keep like €32 in bills on their person. In Germany, physical currency is used for 74 percent of transactions and 96 percent of payments smaller than €5 given a seemingly national aversion to digital payments. That may change though: the United Services Trade Union has called on 12,000 cash transport workers to strike in pursuit of a raise, meaning that ATMs — which Germans withdraw cash from a reliable 42 times per year — may start running dry.

John Detrixhe, Quartz


About 270 shipping containers were lost in the North Sea by a mega container ship enduring rough conditions. Scavengers hoping for a jackpot have to be careful: while many of the containers are full of moist, but free toys, IKEA furniture, clothing, electronics and auto parts, three of them contain dangerous organic peroxides. The containers are washing up on Dutch and German shores — some in coastal communities that have been scavenging flotsam for centuries — leading to dicey impromptu free-for-alls for local treasure hunters. A 267-in-270 chance of a solid haul vs a 3-in-270 chance of dangerous chemicals is honestly better odds than curbside IKEA scavenging in New York, where you’re basically guaranteed to get bed bugs or crabs with that Billy Bookcase.

Erofey Schvarkin, Maritime Bulletin, Toby Sterling, Reuters, DW

Frames per Second

Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse was arguably the best looking movie of 2018, but managed to secure its kinetic and colorful style with a mere 12 frames per second, half the frame rate of a traditional movie. The choppier look is in vogue, and many creators have come out against higher frame rates. Whether it’s the motion smoothing of home televisions or the 48 frames per second experiments that were the Hobbit movies, higher frame rates have been unfavorably compared to the 60 frames per second favored by daytime television in the U.S.

Mike Pearl, The Outline

Box Office

China’s box office grew 9 percent in 2018, passing the target of 60 billion yuan in ticket sales and landing at 60.98 billion yuan, or $8.87 billion. That’s down from the 13.5 percent growth of 2017, but the market now favors more domestic films: Chinese-language films made 62 percent of the box office in 2018, up from 54 percent, and three major Chinese hits — Operation Red Sea, Detective Chinatown 2, and Dying to Survive — made up 17 percent of the box office. Avengers: Infinity War was fifth, behind a loose local adaptation of Brewster’s Millions called Hello Mr. Billionaire.

Becky Davis, Variety

Asset Seizure

Attorneys representing South Korean laborers who were forced to work for Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal in the Second World War have moved to seize the steelmaker’s 30 percent stake in PNR, a Korean recycling company. The stake has an estimated value of 11 billion won, or $9.8 billion. It’s a bold move to try to bring Nippon Steel to the bargaining table. Japan contends the matter has been resolved based on the 1965 treaty that normalized diplomacy between the former enemies, while the workers’ attorneys contend the companies owe the enslaved workers money.

Yosuke Onchi, Nikkei

Earthquake Sensor

Los Angeles has rolled out ShakeAlertLA, an earthquake early warning app for Android and Apple phones which can alert users of incoming quakes with precious seconds of prep time. There are 865 earthquake-sensing stations on the West Coast, 615 of which are in California. A further 810 are needed and the 2018 budget provided means to get the California network up to 70 percent complete by this spring and to get all 1,115 sensors online by 2021.

Rong-Gong Lin II, Los Angeles Times

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Previous Sunday special editions: 2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

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