Numlock News: June 12, 2018


Annual sales of unflavored carbonated water more than doubled from 2008 to 2017, hitting 770 million gallons of the fizzy elixir in 2017. In 2011, that figure was just north of 400 million gallons. LaCroix, a brand of trendy flavored seltzer, saw $827 million in sales last year, up 17 percent over the previous year. But tensions are bubbling to the surface as Amazon — through its Whole Foods subsidiary — has launched a full-on price war in the Bay area that could spill nationwide.
Alison Griswold, Quartz 

Tony Award Viewers

Sunday's Tony Awards telecast featuring delightful hosts Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles took in 6.3 million viewers, up 4 percent from the 6 million who watched last year's ceremony hosted by the since-disgraced Kevin Spacey. That's down from the 8.7 million who watched "Hamilton" run the table in 2016, which was a 15-year high. On the whole, viewership of award shows — still the greatest form of televised combat our society has to offer — is down. The reversal of that troubling trend is welcome news for those of us who still think American soft power is worth fighting for.
Josh Koblin, The New York Times 

North Korean GDP

One side effect of the whole "obscure Hermit Kingdom with an ongoing human rights catastrophe" schtick North Korea is so fond of is that we have absolutely no idea of the true size of the dictatorship's economy. Estimates of GDP per capita in 2011 ranged from $571 according to the U.N. to $612 by the U.S. State Department to $1,197 by the Bank of Korea to $1,718 by the Maddison Project. The CIA's GDP estimate of $40 billion is literally "rounded to the nearest $10 billion."
Alex McIntyre and Adrian Leung, Bloomberg

Movie Critics

An Annenberg Inclusion Institute study found that the critics who reviewed the top 100 movies of 2017 were overwhelmingly white and male. All told, 63.9 percent of the film critics cited on Rotten Tomatoes for those films were white dudes. Men accounted for 77.8 percent of movie reviewers overall, and 45 percent of the 100 top-grossing films of the year didn't have a review on Rotten Tomatoes from a single woman of color.
Marc Choueiti, Dr. Stacy L. Smith, and Dr. Katherine Pieper, Annenberg Inclusion Initiative

Public Understanding of Journalism

An Op-Ed page is the part of a newspaper or news site where advocates, concerned citizens, politicians, lobbyists or, let's be honest, any literate idiot with an adequately hot take is given a valuable platform to argue for their views no matter how dumb or controversial they may be. Approximately 50 percent of respondentsto an American Press Institute survey said they did not know what an op-ed was. This gives pretty credible backing to the assertion that maybe, just maybe, some of the distrust of the press comes from inadequately describing the difference between "valuable news journalists break" and "dumb opinions publishers print for clicks."
Rick Edmonds, Poynter

Price of a Commute

LinkedIn will now tell you about the commute you would endure if you took a new job. The company introduced this feature following a survey that found 85 percent of respondents would be willing to take a pay cut for a shorter commute. It's unclear if the tech will tell you that the R Train conductor is fond of loose and improvisational routes through the subway system. 
Leah Fessler, Quartz

Female Libido Drug Price

Here's how the pharmaceutical business works: the prices go up, often multiple times in a year. So it's news that Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the first-ever approved drug for low libido in women, is relaunching Addyi at the price of $400 for a monthly prescription,down from $800. The makers won back control of the drug from Valeant after a lawsuit claiming they screwed up the marketing for a libido-enhancing pill, which is what folks in the advertising business presumably consider the easiest lay-up in the game.
Cynthia Koons, Bloomberg 

Midwest Startup Money

Last year total venture capital investment in Midwestern companies hit a new high of $4.5 billion. Companies in the Midwest have paid off for investors: that same year, 37 companies exited (sold or IPOed) for a total value of $5.1 billion, up from $1.6 billion in 2016. The Midwest has become an attractive space for VCs seeking down-to-earth, business-oriented technology startups. As it stood in 2017, 76 percent of all VC money went to companies based in California, New York and Massachusetts.
Zachary Crockett, The Hustle