By Walt Hickey
Welcome to May!
The Long Episode
“The Long Night,” the climactic battle episode of Game of Thrones that aired on Sunday, was watched live by 12.02 million viewers, the highest so far this season and 2 million higher than the previous episode. Even wilder is that it totaled 17.8 million viewers when you include HBO’s official streaming apps. That’s a record for the show, beating out the record set by the Season 8 premiere of 17.4 million viewers. It’s unclear what will happen next week when the show returns to Dorne for an hour and a half to settle the thorny bureaucratic minutiae of the Martell succession given the house favors absolute primogeniture over the more common male-preference primogeniture favored by the rest of the realm or agnatic-cognatic primogeniture of the Targaryens, a spellbinding conflict of legal discourse that will surely grip fans just as much as a gazillion dollar dragon v. ice zombie murderfest.
YouTube is voraciously hunting for vibrant and exciting sports properties that they can use to enliven their viewership and capitalize on the unmistakable energy of live sports. They were evidently unable to find any such properties, and so they just are doing 13 Major League Baseball games instead. Hey, who knows? If the YouTube algorithm is half as good at turning passive viewers into voracious fans of the MLB as it is at turning idle watchers into misogynistic extremists, maybe there is hope for baseball after all.
This nation was presented with a dilemma and, folks, the people have spoken: when asked to choose between (1) not looking at their phone for a little while before they got to bed at a reasonable hour and (2) spending $70 billion, we totally spend that $70 billion. This is a renaissance of sorts for sleep aids: medication has fallen from what was essentially the entire market for sleep assistance to just 65 percent, its hegemony diminished by a menagerie of apps, gadgets, lights and more. In 2017, this class of products generated $69.5 billion, and analysts project it’ll hit $101.9 billion by 2023, a solid slice of the $4.2 trillion global wellness industry.
New data from Zendrive finds that people looking at their phones while driving is getting worse and worse with all but four states notching an increase in the percentage of driving time spent using a cell phone. The company monitors 60 million phones, or one in four U.S. drivers. The worst was Virginia, where in 2019 an average 9.4 percent of the time driving was spent interacting with a cellular device. The worst time of day was 4 p.m., an hour when 80.8 percent of drivers picked up their cell phone at least once.
Japan has a new emperor, and with the succession of the monarch Japan’s era name also changes. The era name — gengo — identifies years on the Japanese calendar and appears on official state documents like licenses and currency. Today, Japan moves to the Reiwa era, and that’s actually a big deal given it’s the first new imperial era in the digital age. So we’re getting a new Unicode character and Japan is taking Y2K-esque steps to avert any shambles in the shift over. While the use of gengo is waning in the connected world, 18.8 percent of respondents to a Kyodo News survey said they’d rather use it than the Gregorian calendar of a hybrid system, so it’s still an important part of the culture. I swear, it feels like just yesterday I was still writing Shōwa on my checks.
The Classic Olympic Hustle
As we all know, barring action from officials, Los Angeles will suffer a devastating financial and infrastructural blow in 2028 when a man-made disaster is poised to strike, an event the news media has coined “The 2028 Summer Olympic Games.” Already the committee that formed to attempt to make the city resilient ahead of the catastrophe — a crack team known as the Los Angeles organizing committee — has hiked its projections for the eventual blow. Basically, the 2017 documents submitted to the International Olympic Committee said it’d cost Los Angeles $5.3 billion to host the games, a figure now cranked up to $6.9 billion. There’s also a $615.9 million contingency fund in case the games cost more than anticipated, which based on previous Olympic games you can basically go right ahead and set on fire now. The games are projected to generate $2.5 billion in sponsorships and $2 billion in ticket sales. If any readers are working for Coca-Cola, you better start girding your loins for the magnitude of the check this one’s gonna run you.
A new report projects that in April, for the first time in history, the renewable energy sector will have generated more electricity than coal in the United States. By 2019 and 2020, the report anticipates that this electric serendipity will happen sporadically, with renewables every now and again exceeding coal’s 240 gigawatts of remaining capacity. Coal is projected to drop to 24 percent of total power generation by 2020, down from 28 percent in 2018 and 45 percent in 2010. That’s in many ways thanks to natural gas generation eating the solid stuff’s lunch.
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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Saving the World · Summer Movies · No One Man Should Have All That Power · Film Incentives · Stadiums & Casinos · Late Night · 65 is the new 50 · Scooternomics · 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