By Walt Hickey
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Loop de Loop
Warner Bros. and Mattel will partner to produce a new film based on the Hot Wheels property. I'd scoff, but since the date of my birth the Transformers franchise has averaged $422,100 in box office every day, so what do I know? Hot Wheels are the top-selling toy in the world, selling 500 million annually with six billion cars sold since their introduction in 1968. I look forward to the climax of this film, where the protagonist's car will be thrown at a younger brother's face.
Kiss From A Rose On A Beach
The National Park System will be feeling the effects of the government shutdown for years, but Point Reyes National Seashore will be feeling the effects immediately and for the foreseeable future. Basically, the guy the government pays to make sure elephant seals do not make babies on the tourist beach wasn't able to show up for the specific weeks that elephant seals like to make babies on the tourist beach. Now, about 60 adult seals have birthed 35 pups on the tourist beach. The area is normally home to 1,500 elephant seals. Using cutting edge Silicon Valley technology — a guy with a tarp who shakes the tarp at the seals so they get annoyed and go to a more secluded beach — we've been able to steer the seals to a better beach for all parties, but for now we have to wait until the pups and their moms move along on their own time.
The New Thing
TikTok is the new hot app among the youths, with the short-form video app adding 75 million new users in December, up 275 percent from the 20 million it added the previous December. It's basically Vine, but if Vine had more of a social component. It's been growing steadily since a 2017 acquisition of Musical.ly, and was estimated to be the top App Store download and the fourth-place Google Play download (excluding games) in 2018. More importantly, the money showed up: Users tipped live streamers $6 million in December, up 253 percent from the $1.7 million in December 2017.
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No. 1 Source For NFL Advice
It's inevitable that at some point during the Super Bowl broadcast you will probably want to pee. But with so much going on, choosing the perfect time can prove perilous. According to a new survey (full disclosure: I totally did this poll), the fewest amount of people were willing to miss out on a moment of the halftime show to use the restroom (23 percent), while 37 percent would go during the $10.6 million-per-minute commercial breaks and 39 percent would go during game time. In a league where a televised NFL broadcast has only 11 amalgamated minutes of actual post-snap game play, I have to go with the plurality here.
Peter Jackson, coming off hot on his producer credit for Mortal Engines, will restore 55 hours of new footage and 140 hours of audio to direct a new documentary about the English band The Beatles using footage taken when they attempted to make the album Let It Be. I'm guessing Christopher Nolan and 56 hours of footage and 141 hours of audio of the making of Revolver were busy.
Demand for coal is in free fall and the number of coal mines in the U.S. is down substantially from its peak in 2008. That year, there were 852 surface mines and 583 underground mines for a total of 1,435 mines. Today, there's only 671 coal mines total — 434 surface mines and 237 underground mines. That means 49 percent of surface mines and 60 percent of underground mines have closed up shop. The remaining production is largely in Montana and Wyoming, where the Powder River Basin area accounts for over 40 percent of U.S.production.
Bait and Switch
Foxconn makes your phone, according to the transitive property. More realistically, lots of stuff in your phone — chips, screens, parts — originated from Foxconn and is late processed by the usual suspects into consumer electronics. Foxconn graciously accepted a ton of money and incentives from the state of Wisconsin in exchange for building a factory to make LCD screens that would create 13,000 jobs in that state. Well, now that the taxpayer check is poised to clear, those figures are dropping calamitously: rather than a 20-million square foot facility staffed by a manufacturing workforce, Foxconn reconsidered and now plans to hire mostly engineers and researchers. And rather than 5,200 employees hired by 2020, it's now looking closer to 1,000 workers.
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