Numlock News: May 24, 2019 • Influencer Tax, T-Shirt Cannons, Sell By Dates

By Walt Hickey

Numlock is off Monday in recognition of Memorial Day. For the long weekend, I’m opening up some of the paid subscriber archives to everyone, free subscribers will get an email about that tomorrow.

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Quid Pro Like

Lots of companies shower social media influencers with free product, swag or stays at resort properties, and several countries are now asking, “yo, if every other business has to pay taxes on that stuff, why don’t you Instagram models?” The influence marketing industry is projected to hit $5 billion to $10 billion by 2020, and just because swag is not yet a currency doesn’t mean it’s not income. South Korea is investigating 176 individuals with YouTube and other social presences, leading already to 15 tax evasion cases since December, and it may push the video site to report how much they’re paying video stars.

Sony Kassam, Bloomberg Tax

Cannon Fire

Much as "father of the bomb” Robert Oppenheimer stood awe-struck in the desert as he watched a nuclear age dawn in a blinding light, so too in the spring of 1989 did Pat Williams glimpse the blinding future in Philadelphia when the first t-shirt launcher was tested at the Philly Phanatic’s birthday celebration. That crude slingshot — designed to launch inexpensive branded tees into a frothing crowd’s dull moments at Orlando Magic games — has since birthed an entire field of crew neck related weaponry with ever increasing firepower. Today, a former wedding DJ-turned tee-munitions expert has assembled the most daring weapon of its age, a device known as the Quad that is capable of firing off 186 shirts in approximately 15 seconds in a nigh-unprecedented barrage of 80% cotton, 20% polyester.

Dave McKenna, Deadspin


Yesterday the MTA confirmed the existence of a supervillain and illustrated the path of temporal crimes he’s carried out across New York City in the past few months. Since March of this year, 747 trains have been delayed or cancelled as a result of an unidentified man who has pulled the emergency breaks at least 20 times on the already dilapidated subway, spoiling commutes for easily tens of thousands of commuters. There were 74,220 weekday trains that didn’t reach their station within five minutes of their scheduled time in that period, and this one dude was responsible for 1 percent of them, specifically rush hour trains, which is even worse.

Aaron Gordon, Jalopnik


Facebook revealed it removed over 3 billion fake accounts between October and March. That is twice as many accounts removed as the previous six months, and also a solid fraction of the number of people who live on earth. While many were blocked within minutes, the company now says that about 5 percent of its 2.4 billion monthly active users are fake accounts. That’s 119 million people. That’s the same number of people who live on the East Coast of the U.S., almost right on the money, as active fake accounts on Facebook. That figure is up from the 3 percent to 4 percent estimated in the previous report, those easier times when the number of “monthly active users” who were actually fake accounts was merely twice the population of Canada.

Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press


The FDA is asking the food industry to all get in line behind dating all shelf-stable packaged food as “best if used by” dates rather than “sell by” or “use before” dates. The confusion from the different phrasing is one source of food waste, and the reality is the amount of food and produce that ends up in the trash is unfathomably large. Americans chuck out $161 billion worth of food every year, and something like 20 percent of that is due to confusion about when precisely — to use a scientific term — grub is too gnarly to munch. There is no federal requirement to put date labels on food, except for infant formula. “Use by” is the preferred term when food safety is a concern, and the USDA, not FDA, is behind the (still totally voluntary!) labels on meat, poultry and eggs.

Allison Aubrey, NPR


Since the first human bravely spoke up and said, “Hey, what if we didn’t throw this dead body directly in our water supply? What if we did something a little more elaborate for our dead pal Steve?,” mankind has been innovative when it comes to the afterlife, and today is no different. Cremation overtook burial in 2015, when 48 percent of America’s dead being cremated compared to 45 percent who opted for burial. That trend has only continued: last year the National Funeral Directors Association estimated 53.5 percent of deceased were cremated, and the national cremation rate is projected to be 80 percent by 2035. That is, unless we keep doing some more off-the-wall ideas that are increasingly legal, like getting turned into fireworks or commemorative memorabilia.

Allie Volpe, Vox


China is cranking up meat imports amid an outbreak of disease among the country’s pigs, and one big winner is Russia, which has long been angling to set up a reliable chicken business. A decade ago, Russia was a net importer of chickens, but now they’re nearly at breakeven. Last year, China agreed to allow imports, and 30 Russian companies are approved to send birds to the southeast. China’s poultry imports will jump 68 percent this year at 575,000 tons, according to USDA forecasts, thanks to the national need for protein despite the ongoing a-pork-alypse.

Anatoly Medetsky, Bloomberg

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  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