Numlock News: July 28, 2021 • Wu Tang, Wizards, Britney

By Walt Hickey

Once Upon A Time In The Eastern District of New York

The U.S. Attorneys office for the Eastern District of New York announced it successfully sold the sole existing copy of “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” by the Wu-Tang Clan, which had been bought and subsequently forfeited by convicted fraudster and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli. In March of 2018 Shkreli was ordered to forfeit $7.4 million, and the proceeds of the sale will go towards the outstanding balance. This accomplished justice for the one person who had so far gone without it, Juror 59, the prospective juror who said he was unable to judge Shkreli impartially in part because “he disrespected the Wu-Tang Clan.”

U.S. Department of Justice

Kafkaesque

Britney Spears’ new legal representation has formally asked that her father Jamie be replaced as her conservator after 13 years on the job. The pop star’s estate was listed as having $57 million in non-cash assets and $2.7 million in cash assets, which her new attorney argues was repeatedly squandered by the existing conservators who control her life. Due to the terms of the arrangement, Britney pays the legal fees for both sides of the case, while Jamie himself hauls in a $16,000 per month salary, in addition to an office stipend and, uncustomary for a conservator, percentages of her performance contracts.

Mark Savage, BBC News

Wizards

Hasbro announced second quarter earnings, and the really wild numbers come out of its Wizards of the Coast division, which produces Magic the Gathering cards and Dungeons & Dragons game materials. Revenue at Wizards was up 118 percent year over year, making $406 million in Q2 compared to $187 million last year. Digital materials were a huge component of the growth for the games over the course of the pandemic, given that tabletops were still a little close for comfort last year. The profit margin remains a wild 47.5 percent.

David McCoy, Hipsters of the Coast

Fuel

About 18 percent of flights at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport were delayed or cancelled on a recent Sunday because fuel deliveries are slowed throughout large expanses of the West. With air travel tourism back in action and at the same time fuel is needing to be diverted to firefighting aircrafts working to mitigate wildfires, the airline business is suffering a bit of a literal pipeline problem. They didn’t buy lots of jet fuel last year, and the pipelines that move fuel around the country award space based on the shipment volume of the past 12 months. Now they’re struggling to get enough fuel in places like Reno where air travel collapsed amid tourism’s collapse.

Alison Sider, The Wall Street Journal

Parenting

A deeper look at the American Time Use Survey numbers reveal the increased amount of time spent on childcare last year wasn’t exactly shared equally. In households with children aged 6 to 12, the average amount of time spent per day on childcare rose by 1 hour 21 minutes among men and 2 hours and 4 minutes among women from 2019 to 2020. Multitasking also surged: time spent both caring for children and working increased 16 minutes per day among men but 48 minutes per day among women. This growth was largely driven by a substantial increase in childcare obligations for single mothers in widowed, divorced, separated, or never married households. In married households, where women overall still did more childcare, the growth over the same year was 1 hour 49 minutes for women and 1 hour 41 minutes for men.

Ben Casselman and Ella Koeze, The New York Times

Home Sales

Sales of new homes fell 6.6 percent in June of 2021, with the rate falling to an annualized 676,000 homes, down from 873,000 in March and a peak of 993,000 in January. The expectation from Wall Street was around 795,000, meaning this was a significant miss. It’s believed to be fueled by high costs and a shortage of new properties for sale. The average cost of a new home is up 12 percent compared to a year ago, though the median sales price of a new home did fall to $361,000 in June from $380,700 in May.

Jeffry Bartash, MarketWatch

Bureaucracy

There isn’t a unified social security agency in the United States to administer social programs, and as a result what you get is a patchwork of administrators with varying different programs and requirements. In the U.S., paperwork and filings that would, in other countries, be done by an administrator working for the government fall to the applicants, who may not be equipped to manage it. Thanks to the whims of the 53 unemployment insurance agencies in the U.S., an estimated 9 million jobless Americans didn’t get a single payment for which they were eligible. Distressing numbers are everywhere: about 22 percent of eligible earned-income tax credit recipients don’t get their money because they either don’t or misfile, physicians are weighed down filling out an average of 37 insurance forms per week, and taxpayers spent 9 billion hours doing tax prep that elsewhere is managed by the feds.

Annie Lowrey, The Atlantic

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