Numlock News: July 9, 2020 • Cruise Ships, Truck Fires, Quick Bites

By Walt Hickey


There are not enough ports in the world for every cruise ship — of which there are about 400 — to dock at the same time, which means that many of the empty vessels are parked in bays and harbors around the world, costing their owners a fortune. Carnival, the largest cruise operator in the world, owns 105 ships now paused around the world: 20 in the Caribbean, 40 in Europe, 35 in Asia and 10 in the Eastern Pacific. The costs are considerable. The vessels are not designed to be turned off, and maintenance and preventative work must keep going to keep the ships afloat. Ongoing ship and administrative expenses are running Carnival $250 million a month.

Fran Golden, Bloomberg

The Postal Service Give Up

The United States Postal Service is having a bit of trouble with its iconic, boxy Long Life Vehicles, or LLVs. The problem is that since May 2014, 407 LLVs have burst into flames, being damaged or destroyed in the conflagration. This happens on average once every five days. An analysis of 3,954 pages of documentation regarding the fires found in 125 cases the trucks were left so burned a cause was unidentifiable, and in the other 282 cases the reasons were all over the place. The key connection is that the vehicles are well past their intended life of service: designed by Northrop Grumman to last 24 years, all the 142,000 LLVs in service as of 2014 were between 26 and 33 years old, and let’s just say they put city miles on them.

Aaron Gordon, Motherboard

Phoning It In

Gallup conducts an ongoing survey asking workers how engaged they are with their work, and the most recent June survey found people are the most checked-out they’ve been in years. In May, 38 percent of workers said they were “highly involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace,” the highest ever observed since they began asking the question in 2000. The following survey in June of 2,687 full- and part-time U.S. employees — which took place several months into many working remotely, just as several people were being hauled back into work lest they lose unemployment coverage, and following nationwide civil unrest — indicated people were increasingly becoming less engaged, with 14 percent saying they were “actively disengaged” at work, 31 percent engaged, and 54 percent psychologically unattached to their work and company, the true silent majority in America.

Jim Harter, Gallup

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In the United States, just 8.5 percent of U.S. households are car-free, but in New York City fully 55 percent don’t own a car. Car dealerships are noting a large increase in walk-ins given the initial discomfort associated with using public transportation during a respiratory pandemic. Walk-in leads to New York City area dealerships are up 38 percent year-over-year according to, a larger pop than the 6 percent observed nationwide.

Anne Kadet, The Wall Street Journal


The most significant oil pipeline news this week was a federal judge ordering the controversial Dakota Access pipeline — which connects North Dakota to Illinois — to stop operation and drain amid a rescinded permit. But that’s far from the end of it, as the Atlantic Coast pipeline, a project that would have extended from West Virginia to Virginia and on to North Carolina, was also called off due to doubts about its economic viability. In a tough environment for new natural gas pipelines, others in the process of construction are seen as possible future cancellations. One, the Mountain Valley pipeline, is currently on hold awaiting decisions from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Forest Service. The Atlantic Coast pipeline was about 6 percent in the ground when cancelled, while the MVP is about 92 percent complete, so it’s down to the financial conditions and legal situation to see if it’ll move a drop.

Arianna Skibell and Carlos Anchondo, E&E News


The Pew Research Center found that about 9 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 had moved as a result of the virus outbreak, a higher fraction than the 3 percent of respondents overall who up and left somewhere because of the coronavirus. About 22 percent of respondents knew someone who had moved as a result of the pandemic or had themselves moved. Of those who moved, 9 percent said they had bought or rented a new place.

Jacey Fortin, The New York Times

Quick Bite, Nothing More

Quibi, a new streaming service that bet big on short-form premium video content, seems to have had a tough time converting people who downloaded their app and availed themselves of a free trial into full customers. According to Sensor Tower — a third-party data source that Quibi quibbles with — of the 910,000 users they observed signing up for Quibi in its first few days of launch, just 72,000 stuck around after the conclusion of the three-month trial. That’s far from terrible, but would come in below peer apps like Disney+, which according to Sensor Tower converted 11 percent of the 9.5 million people they estimated signed up in its first three days of availability. Quibi disputes the numbers. And hey, they might turn it around. Apparently everyone started phoning it in at work about a month ago according to Gallup, so they could focus on the slacker market and mount a comeback.

Nick Statt, The Verge

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Correction: a previous version of this referred to petroleum pipelines — as in the Keystone XL — but this has been restated to refer to natural gas pipelines in the case of the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines.

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