By Walt Hickey
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It's a great time to be in the movie business, with a solid box office rebound over last year's disastrous summer. The summer box office is up 15.3 percent over last year, and year-to-date the domestic box office is up 9.3 percent. June alone was up 19 percent over last year. There's still more to come this summer, with "Ant-Man and the Wasp" continuing the Marvel Cinematic Universe, "Christopher Robin" poised to launch the Winnie The Cinematic Pooh-niverse and "Mission: Impossible - Fallout," debuting as the latest attempt from Tom Cruise to illustrate how dumb grammar is.
When everyone is magna cum laude, is anyone? GPAs are trending up at major universities, and at some schools enormous chunks of the graduating class get to throw a little extra latin on their diplomas. In 2018, a majority — 58.8 percent — of Johns Hopkins graduates did so with honors. At USC, the share who grabbed Laudes rose from 32 percent to 44 percent in a decade. Some schools solve this abundance of latin by capping honors. Harvard had 91 percent of students graduate with honors in 2001, and since capped it to 60 percent. Full disclosure, the best William & Mary was willing to offer me was magna cum inebriata.
For the first time in the 18 years that Gallup asked the question, a majority of Americans did not say they were "extremely proud" to be American. In 2001, 55 percent of Americans were extremely proud of their nationality. That rose to 70 percent in 2003, which makes sense, because I distinctly remember an extremely popular song specifically talking about how proud Lee Greenwood was to be an American. Then some stuff happened in Iraq, and by about 2008 we were down to 58 percent of Americans being extremely proud. That held steady to 54 percent by 2015, and since fell to 47 percent in the latest edition of the poll in June.
Illegal Legal Weed
It's the day of reckoning for marijuana products in the state of California that aren't up to code. The state allowed a grace period for the first six months of legalized recreational weed when it came to products that did not totally comply with new legal requirements. This allowed manufacturers time to meet rigorous testing and packaging standards. But as of July 1, that unsold, noncompliant, THC-containing product has to be destroyed, with one estimate putting the value of the lost concentrates, edibles and flowers at $350 million. All I am saying is that if you are a California dumpster diver, today is Christmas.
Sports Talk Radio Stations
San Diego, California has only one professional sports team, Major League Baseball's Padres. For some reason, there are 3 separate all-sports radio stations in San Diego. It's increasingly clear that there may be more supply than demand for what Nielsen estimates are 719,400 men aged 25-54, the key demo for sports radio, in the San Diego market. One station literally clocked in with an average of 200 men in the demographic listening during the morning hours, which is basically “new podcast” numbers.
Manufacturing delays mixed with the busiest time of the year for emergency rooms mean that hospitals are running short on drugs like morphine and other critical medications. A May survey of E.R. doctors found 9 out of 10 said they didn't have access to some critical medicines. Sterile injectable drugs are particularly hard hit, and it's gotten to the point where the F.D.A. is allowing Pfizer to sell products that otherwise would be recalled, like morphine in cracked syringes. The F.D.A. tracked 39 new drug shortages in 2017, which is down from a peak of 251 in 2011, but this year the shortages are happening at the worst possible time.
For the first time since 2005, not a single American was killed by a tornado in the United States in May or June. From 1987 to 2016, an average of 71 Americans die each year due to a tornado. This is only the second time on record that May and June didn't see a single tornado-related fatality. There have been 571 reports of tornadoes this year according to preliminary estimates, which indicates a weaker year than most. Generally, about 1,000 tornadoes hit the U.S. in the first six months of the year.
First Lady Melania Trump made somewhere between $100,000 and $1,000,000 in photo royalties from Getty Images in 2017, as part of a deal regarding 187 photographs available on the service shot from 2010 and 2016 by a Belgian photographer. No income from the deal was itemized in a financial disclosure prior to her husband’s presidential inauguration. A requirement of using the photographs was that they "be used only in positive coverage."
Tomorrow I’ll be taking the day off for Independence Day, I’ll see you Thursday. Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too, and please consider becoming a paid subscriber.