By Walt Hickey
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Disneyland Price Hikes
Tickets to Disneyland have taken a jump ahead of the opening of its newest area, a 14-acre Star Wars attraction. The price of a one-day, one-park ticket to Disneyland will rise to $149 from $135 for regular demand days, a 10.4 percent increase. Annual passes will see a jump as well; a pass that blocks out 211 days in 2019 jumps to $399 from $369. The company is trying to find a way to ensure that regular visitors don’t crowd out out-of-area visitors for the newest attraction, and that means a massive jump in the price for the most expensive annual pass, with access to each park and no block out dates. The Premier Pass is jumping a staggering 23.4 percent, from $1,579 to $1,949, leaving only the most well-heeled Hutts to camp out in the local cantina.
Whales sing, and marine biologists are regularly finding new and mysterious facts about why given how inexpensive it’s become to get and analyze good recordings. For instance, only male humpbacks sing, and they switch tunes when another male is nearby. They also sing the same song type, but improv and tweak it over time, and then once they reach a certain complexity the whale will drop the song and pick up a new, simple one. And another study found that the pitch of Antarctic blue whales changes with the seasons — they increase by 0.1 hertz during the spring and summer — potentially in response to extremely loud sounds of icebergs cleaving, just like an singer’s microphone might increase that sound for a loud room. Anyway, here’s Wonderwall.
The National Weather Service is responsible for the Global Forecast System, a sophisticated weather system that fuels models and forecasts across the country. Typically, there are 50 full-time federal employees at the Environmental Modeling Center and 150 contractors who work to make sure the model is correctly interpreting formats for the weather data being inputted into the flagship model. Only one person is working during the shutdown, a manager who does not work on the data or models. I’d pack an umbrella.
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The top-selling album of 2018 wasn’t a pop album, a hip-hop album and certainly not a rock album, but rather the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman, which was the only album to sell more than a million copies in 2018, or 1.3 million sales. The next highest-selling album was the soundtrack to A Star Is Born, which moved 525,000 albums. In a distant third was a bona fide pop album, Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods with 377,000 sales.
Netflix & Bills
Netflix has a pretty significant issue on its hands. According to a third-party analytics firm, a few shows make up most of the viewed content on Netflix, which is ultra-cagey about releasing data. The data looked at Netflix episode and movie views on web browsers from January through November 2018. According to the estimates, the most viewed shows are The Office (7.2 percent of views), Friends (4.1 percent), Parks and Recreation (2.3 percent), Grey’s Anatomy (2.1 percent) and New Girl (1.7 percent). The issue is that none of those shows are owned by Netflix and are instead owned by rivals Disney, Fox, WarnerMedia or NBCU, all of whom are at some point rolling out a streaming service rival of their own and who could very well pull that content whenever they please. Of the 20 purported most viewed Netflix shows, 13 are owned by rivals, which combine to 24 percent of streamed content. These are estimates, but if they’re close to the right ballpark, the content owners have serious leverage over the streamer.
It Wasn’t The Skills
A paper analyzing the mysteriously evaporating “skills gap” — the concept that unemployment was high because people simply were unskilled to be in the new workforce — shows that it’s actually the other way around, and that all those “entry-level” jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees and several years experience were simply a consequence of high unemployment and employers being choosier than they needed to be simply because they could. A 1 percentage point increase in the state unemployment rate was linked to a 0.6 percentage point increase in the portion of employers requiring a bachelor’s degree, and a 0.8 percentage point increase in those requiring 4 plus years of experience. It’s not that workers were inadequate, it’s merely that the labor market allowed employers to pretend the labor pool wasn’t up to snuff.
The future for electric transportation in the U.S. will come down to battery capacity. Electric busses and passenger cars accounted for 44 gigawatt hours of lithium-ion battery demand in 2017. That’s projected to grow to over 1,500 gigawatt hours per year by 2030. Whoever builds a battery that can outperform the current tech will become unfathomably wealthy: the market is projected to grow from $23 billion to $84 billion by 2025.
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