Numlock News: June 18, 2019 • Moloka’i, Duty Free, Beer

By Walt Hickey

Moloka’i

Hawaiian Electric has a mandate from the state of Hawaii to convert the five island grids it operates to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The catch? Literally no utility on the planet actually knows for sure how to pull that one off. Enter Moloka‘i, home to 7,500 residents and a 6 megawatt grid that keeps them going. Compare that to O‘ahu’s 1,200 megawatt grid for scale. Power plants in the state burned 1,438 million liters of petroleum at last count in 2017, and Moloka‘i will be the proving ground for the grid of the future: how do you convert a power system to renewables while maintaining costs, which are already high in Hawaii at $165 per month residentially. A wind farm was crushed by local opposition — it would have produced 35 times the power the island needed — so solving Moloka‘i’s power need will be an important demonstration of the way forward on the other islands and across the U.S. even more.

Peter Fairley, Hakai Magazine

Swearing

Besides being a general hive of scum and villainy for many, many other reasons, one new parental filtering tech illuminates just how much YouTube has basically become the saloon from Deadwood, profanity-wise. Looking at the 2,147 top videos in the U.K. in May, 24.4 percent contained an F-bomb, which we can all agree is probably a bit over the top. This was worse in some genres than others, with 43 percent of videos pertaining to gaming containing the four-letter detention-getter.

Matt Reynolds, Medium

Brewers

Last year, there were 7,450 breweries in the U.S., a major rebound after a tough century or two. In 1873, there were 4,131 breweries, a count that fell to 89 brewers by 1978 as the business consolidates. Anheuser-Busch and Molson Coors have seen their market share fall from 78 percent in 2008 to 64 percent in 2018, part of the explosion in craft brewers. This shift has led to some pretty fascinating changes in the very nature of beer production, as output per hour worked is down 65 percent, as breweries get smaller and less efficient at making suds with the shift away from industrial production strategies.

Justin Fox, Bloomberg

Duty Free

Last year, people spent some $76 billion at duty free and travel shops around the world, an incomprehensibly high number and up from $43 billion in 2010. As malls collapse, the airport has become an inexplicably popular place to shop, presumably because people are forced to spend an average 72 minutes in an unglamorous waiting room and why not try out the colognes, you know? Estée Lauder saw 18 percent of its sales come from travel retail, up from 7 percent of sales a decade ago. I, too, like a bit of luxury when I fly, like when I buy the $7 iPhone charger because I forgot to pack the one I got for free when I bought the phone.

Jaewon Kang and Sharon Terlep, The Wall Street Journal

Auctioned

And so the seller has become the sold, with auction house and art dealer Sotheby’s selling for $2.7 billion to a French telecommunications titan. The art collector buyer is worth $8.6 billion and has clearly decided to go straight to the source to become a collector of art salespeople. Just when you thought the art business couldn’t get more secretive or snooty, private ownership will actually remove the need to routinely disclose the state of the ecosystem to public markets.

Angelina Rascouet, Devon Pendleton and Katya Kazakina, Bloomberg

J.J.

J.J. Abrams, the visionary director responsible for Star Trek (2009) among other, less consequential, work will reportedly be inking a deal in the ballpark of $500 million with Warner Bros. Abrams has been looking for a content juggernaut with whom to ally in the tempestuous years ahead, which bring peril and uncertainty not unlike those endured and overcome by the trusty crew of the Enterprise in the iconic film Star Trek of 2009. WarnerMedia gets a first look at projects developed by Bad Robot, the company behind the Chris Pine-helmed masterpiece and also some other less important movies, and makes this an enormous deal even in the realm of enormous deals that pulled up dump trucks full of money onto the lawns of Shonda Rhimes, Ryan Murphy and Greg Berlanti. WarnerMedia will have beaten out Apple, NBCUniversal and presumably an earnest push from Capt. Christopher Pike to join Star Fleet.

Brooks Barnes and John Koblin, The New York Times

Spammers

In May alone Americans endured an estimated 4.7 billion robocalls, an enormous societal failure that in any other civilization would have led to mass hysteria and the summary prosecution of literally anyone responsible for the harassment, but in ours is met with a shrug and maybe your telecom provider rolling out an optional new fee for you to suck up. Though it’s tough to rank who is most adversely affected by this ambient scourge on the telecommunications fabric that ostensibly binds our community together, hospitals have a pretty good claim at number one. Doctors, administrators and staff are bound to field telephone calls, and in settings when life and death matters are decided in seconds, distractions from spam calls can have serious consequences. Tufts Medical Center registered over 4,500 calls in a two hour period in late April.

Tony Romm, The Washington Post

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