Numlock News: July 14, 2021 • Rigged Arcade, Gila, CoComelon

By Walt Hickey

I edited another comic over at Insider, it’s about the conflict in the Royal family, you should check it out!

Rigged

A $5 million proposed class action lawsuit was launched against Sega in a federal district court in California on Monday, with Marcelo Muto alleging that the company’s Key Master arcade game is, in fact, rigged. You’ve likely seen these arcade kiosks in malls or gaming establishments, with rows of often expensive items — iPads, electronics — and the object to stop an automatic movement at the exact right moment by hitting a button. The lawsuit says that while the game is pitched as a game of skill and dexterity, it’s actually a game of chance, and the consoles are programmed to allow wins only after a certain proscribed number of failures. This is hardly the first time Key Master has been the subject of legal inquiry, with class action settlements reached in 2015, and the state of Arizona suing over it in 2019.

Nicole Carpenter, Polygon

Lumber

The price of wood is crashing back down to the “pricey, yet reasonable” tier of commodity valuation after rising to stratospheric heights earlier this year. Since the 1990s, lumber’s mostly traded for $200 to $400 per thousand board feet. Earlier this year, lumber peaked at $1,733.50 per thousand board feet, but now it’s down to $712.90 per thousand board feet on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Inventory is crawling back, and all the people who wanted wood for more recreational purposes or renovations have been scared off by the high prices.

Marcy Nicholson, Bloomberg

Fine

Google was fined €500 million ($592 million) Tuesday by France’s competition regulator after the administrator ruled the search giant had not negotiated with French publishers in good faith over payments for news. The agency has threatened another €900,000 fine per day for each day they don’t come to some kind of agreement within two months. This follows a €220 million fine from the French in June for what antitrust authorities described as abusing its market dominance in the online ad business.

The Associated Press

CoComelon Lane

Bad news for parents everywhere, as Netflix has optioned the YouTube children’s show CoComelon Lane for three seasons of 24 seven-minute episodes each. Netflix also ordered 48 episodes of a show called Little Baby Bum, with both programs debuting in 2023. About 60 percent of Netflix subscribers watch kid and family content, and the streamer wants to bolster its offerings by pulling from the most viral and annoying crap on YouTube. CoComelon generates 2 billion views a month on YouTube, and compilations of its nursery rhymes on Netflix are regularly in the top 10 shows on Netflix.

Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Passport

The U.S. State Department is dealing with a flood of passport renewal applications, with the Postal Service fielding 3.5 million applications for a passport in the first six months of this year, up from 3.2 million over the same period of 2019. After a year on ice, many Americans are itching to get out of the country for a bit, and have simultaneously come to the realization their paperwork may have expired. Applications are taking longer to process, with turnaround time for a standard passport hitting 12 weeks of processing and six weeks of mailing for a total of 18 weeks.

Allison Pohle and Courtney McBride, The Wall Street Journal

Graphic Novels

The numbers for the first half of the year in books are in, and graphic novels have had an earth-shattering couple of months. With 16.2 million copies sold, graphic novels were 20 percent of the adult fiction market, more than double the 9.3 percent market share that novel-length comics had last year. Overall, unit sales of print books posted an 18.5 percent increase over the levels seen over the same period last year, which was outstanding growth, but graphic novels blew that out of the water, with sales of graphic novels up 178.5 percent compared to the first half of last year.

Jim Milliot, Publishers Weekly

Gila

The Gila River is the southernmost river in the United States that’s snow-fed. Scientists predict that by 2050 snow will no longer fall in the Black and Mogollon ranges, which means that the primary source of the now 649-mile river — which feeds into the Colorado River — will soon be no more. In addition to increasing water insecurity in the region, this is devastating for the entire North American ecosystem: in a desert, about 90 percent of life is found within a mile of a river, and half of the 900 bird species of North America use the Gila or one of its tributaries at some point in their migration.

Jim Robbins, High Country News

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