Numlock News: July 2, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Cheap Clothes

I am on the H&M pants subscription, where I buy a pair of black H&M pants, wear them every day for about two months, rip the crotch open and then buy that same pair of black H&M pants and renew the process indefinitely. This apparently isn’t enough for the fast fashion retailer, as its quarterly earnings announcement was pretty bad: profits were down 21 percent, and while the company made $520 million from March to May, it’s currently got $4.3 billion worth of unsold inventory. Logically, H&M should make its pants last 45 days rather than 60 days, but that would ruin me financially.

Chavie Lieber, Racked

What The Teens Are Buying These Days

The average player of the video game Fortnite spends $58.25 on the free video game. They’re paying for ways to personalize their character as they attempt to kill the other 99 players they have been dropped onto an island with. The cosmetic items are a big draw for consistent players: according to the survey, 30 percent of players never bought items, but those who did spent an average of $84.67. I would make fun of them for spending all that money, but Teen Walt was the proud owner of the Halo Legendary Edition helmet and I have absolutely no ground to stand on here.

Dave Gershgorn, Quartz

Dollar Stores

The average consumer spends $29 at a dollar store every month, but that’s not always a sign of frugality. Patrons of dollar stores often pay more for items that would be available at a supermarket or a big-box store for bulk purchases. Still, dollar stores are on the march all over the United States, especially in areas far away from or too impoverished to support a supermarket.

Joe Eskenazi, The Guardian

Nickels

The U.S. Mint made over 1.3 billion nickels in 2017, and despite the fact that they literally print money, the Mint made all those coins at a loss. The penny has long been a money-loser for the mint, with each coin costing more than the cent its worth, but the nickel has only been a money loser since 2006. The copper and nickel in a five cent piece went up in price and is now about 7 cents, and in 2017 the Mint lost $9.5 million making them. And changing that composition isn’t easy — vending machines and coin counters in America uses conductivity to delineate different coins, and reprogramming would cost tens of billions of dollars.

Katherine Ellen Foley, Quartz

Cement

The cement business is the second largest industrial emitter of carbon behind only the steel industry. This is an issue for countries trying to hit climate goals, as cement and concrete are also absolutely essential components for building a low-carbon economy. An average wind turbine needs 12,400 to 17,700 cubic feet of concrete made with cement, or conservatively about 57 trucks’ worth of concrete. But to make that cement, limestone had to be heated in an enormous kiln and that process belched out carbon by the ton.

Mike Disabato, The Outline

There Is A Company Behind Those Disposable E-Cigs Littering The Sidewalk

Juul is a San Francisco-based litter company that manufactures electronic cigarettes. It has a staggering 68 percent market share, and that’s rising. It’s currently got a $4 billion valuation, but a new fundraising round would put it at a $15 billion valuation. Perhaps sensing that being the preferred nicotine delivery mechanism for American teenagers is a profitable but legally perilous position, Juul is looking outward for growth internationally.

Dave Gershgorn, Quartz

Streams

An outside estimate of Spotify streams says Drake’s new album “Scorpion” smashed the one-day global album streaming record with 132,450,203 streams. Apple Music claims Drake also broke its streaming record with 170 million streams. Because this is the music business we’re talking about and especially because it’s the streaming music business we’re talking about, all numbers should be taken with a metric ton of salt.

Jem Aswad, Variety

At-Risk People

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that there are more than 1 million people at a high risk of contracting HIV in the United States. One way to prevent HIV infection is the use of PrEP, a medication that is over 90 percent effective when taken daily. Brand-name Truvada has seen its average wholesale price increase by 45 percent since it was approved 6 years ago, and now has a list price of $2,000 for a 30-day supply. That price tag is one reason that “pill that stops an actual plague” is received by only 167,000 people.

Shefali Luthra and Anna Gorman, NPR


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