Numlock News: March 13, 2019

By Walt Hickey

Liking Numlock? Forward today’s email to a friend you think may enjoy it and might subscribe.


They’re back in the news, and it’s just as bad as before. MoviePass is the fascinating business concept where customers can buy a card to see lots of movies for a fixed monthly fee. Shockingly, this proved to be a money-losing business model. MoviePass shares now trade for just over a penny and they are no longer available on the Nasdaq. They’re trying their best, though. For instance, after some eagle-eyed accounting, they recently realized that they had a net loss of $146.7 million in the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2018, not $137.2 million as previously believed. All told, $5.9 million of that was because they sort of lost count of how many subscribers they actually had. Great company.

Paul Bond, The Hollywood Reporter


Britain’s Parliament voted 391 to 242 to defeat Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to exit the European Union, a vote that happened just 17 days before the U.K. was set to leave the E.U. That’s not great timing, and the situation can be generously described as shambolic: should no action take place, Britain will crash out of the E.U. and become a logistical pariah overnight, while the other options — a second referendum, a delay, or both — are also up in the air. This follows a 432 to 202 vote in January also rejecting the government’s Brexit plan, and both votes stack up among the most lopsided in memory.

The New York Times


Between January 9 and March 7, there have been seven reported goat thefts in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Overall, 61 goats worth $27,000 have been snatched from private properties. Some were recovered — four of eleven goats stolen from a pasture in Fresno were recovered in a road over the weekend — but the thefts are still roiling the area. Let’s not forget that “goats disappearing in the middle of the night” is 100 percent the modus operandi of the Chupacabra.

The Associated Press

Top of the Pops

Who’s the biggest pop star right now? That question used to be easy when the only way to buy music was an album, and we could count up the number of those albums that were sold and thus know, with a relative degree of certainty, who was the best at music that week. But now? It’s chaos out there, and several are competing for the crown depending on the metrics you use. Justin Bieber has the most followers on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram combined, but no one uses Facebook anymore anyway. Kanye was mentioned in 420,000 Reddit comments last year to Drake’s 310,000 comments, but Kanye is recently better known for other ‘work.’ Ozuna has the most streams on YouTube globally with 10.7 billion in 2018, but who can say what those even mean anymore. As for getting people to shell out dough to sit down and watch them, there’s a distinct winner: Dave Matthew’s Band booked 1.1 million seats in 2018, beating Jason Aldean’s 980,000 seats and Bruno Mars’ 670,000 seats. Also disrupting the analysis is my Spotify most-played, which indicates the most popular artist on earth in 2018 is the guy who sang the Yuri!!! On ICE theme song.

Caitlyn Ralph, Amber Thomas, Matt Daniels, Jan Diehm, Jack Beckwith, Michael Hester, Sam Vickars, Ilia Blinderman and Russell Goldenberg, The Pudding

Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.


Over a week ago, a tractor trailer crashed and dumped its gooey cargo into Little Conococheague Creek in Maryland, prompting one of the worst environmental disasters in the history of the body of water. That truck was carrying 20,000 bottles of ranch dressing. Over the past week, crews have picked up an estimated 8,000 ranch dressing bottles from along the creek and they’re nearing the end of it. While I can’t confirm that waterfowl covered in tangy dressing were toweled off with Dawn by dedicated volunteers, it’s extremely pleasant to think that’s what went down, right?

C.J. Lovelace, Herald Mail Media


The salaries of the one million doctors in the U.S. account for an estimated 8 percent of the total health care spending, and economists argue that by having an increased supply of doctors and subsequently lowering their salaries to competitive levels could save Americans on the order of $100 billion per year. A key bottleneck in minting more medical professionals is that Congress capped the number of residencies funded by Medicare in 1997 after lobbying from doctors. While the total number has risen 26 percent over the past decade, the supply of new doctors still isn’t high enough to keep prices competitive.

Greg Rosalsky, NPR

What Is A Van?

U.S. Customs is going to war with Ford, essentially alleging that the manufacturer is putting a cheap disguise and fake mustache on vans in order to work around tariffs. Here’s how it works: Ford pays a 2.5 percent duty on imported passenger vans, but a 25 percent tariff on light trucks, which technically include cargo vans. Attorneys for customs argue that Ford imported passenger vans, then removed a row of seats, and flipped them as cargo vans, in doing so saving a bunch of money at the border. The Court of International Trade sided with Ford in 2017, but the government appealed and on Monday there were oral arguments.

Mark Niquette and Andrew Mayeda, Bloomberg

Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at Send corrections or typos to the copy desk at

Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite

2018 Sunday Editions: 2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores