Numlock News: May 29, 2018


The number of songwriters credited with producing a pop hit has been steadily rising over the past several decades. Looking at songs that peaked in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100, the teams grew from an average of 1.71 songwriters in 1960, to 2.9 writers in 1998, to 5.1 songwriters in 2017. This is partly due to hit-making becoming concentrated among a small cadre of pros, which in turn makes the overall pop musical soundscape more homogenous.
Andrew Thompson, Matt Daniels and Damian Gaume, The Pudding 

As of last week 149 of 435 House districts had held primaries, and early returns seem to indicate this is a big year for women vying for Congress. There have been 65 Democratic party congressional primaries where there was at least one man and one woman and no incumbent; a woman won in 45 of those races. Looking at GOP primaries with those same conditions, men won 11 of 14 races.
David Wasserman, Cook Political Report

Mussels are filter feeders and are a great way for scientists to measure contamination levels in bodies of water. Scientists scattered groups of mussels to 18 test locations around Puget Sound off the coast of Seattle. In 3 of those test locations, the mussels tested positive for trace amounts of oxycodone, because wastewater management systems simply cannot filter out all drugs. That, or maybe the clams have a pill problem we need to talk about. But probably the first one.
Christina Capatides, CBS News
 

Mike Meru is a Utah orthodontist who owes a nauseating$1,060,945.42 in student loans, making him one of the 101 people who owe more than $1 million in federal student loans according to the Department of Education. Five years ago only 14 people had committed financial suicide to that extent. The $601,506 in loans Meru took out to attend USC has interest accumulating to the tune of about $130 per day. At a certain point Meru's loans could be forgiven, but having to pay taxes on what would eventually be some $2 million of loan forgiveness could set him back $700,000. This story is like the postgraduate degree equivalent of an episode of "Bar Rescue."
Josh Mitchell, The Wall Street Journal

Since 1997, approximately $1.8 trillion was held by the subsidiaries of U.S. corporations based in the Netherlands, Ireland, Luxembourg, Singapore and the Caribbean. Routing income through those subsidiaries rather than on U.S. soil was advantageous for tax purposes, namely the advantage of purposefully not paying taxes. The new tax law passed last year will eliminate some of those advantages and hopefully make the U.S. trade surplus in services look vaguely normal again, since it won't be capturing what is really just clever financial engineering as an export.
Matthew C. Klein, Barrons


The market for plant-based food — essentially defined as tofu, tempeh, meat, milk, egg and dairy alternatives, and packaged vegetarian or vegan meals —hauled in $3.1 billion in U.S. sales from 2016 to 2017 according to Nielsen, up 8.1 percent from the previous year. From 2017 to 2021 the market for packaged vegan food is projected to keep growing at a rate of 8.14 percent.
Emily Atkin, The New Republic

While millennial Americans earn similar incomes and save approximately the same amount as previous generations, the great recession really did a number on their ability to accumulate wealth. AFederal Reserve study found the cohort born from 1980 to 1989 had a net worth 34 percent lower than what other generations had built up at their age.
Allison Schrager, Quartz 

According to data from the salary comparison site Payscale, an estimated 70 to 80 percent of social media workers are women. The work is quite the grind — the always-on nature of the job combined with regularly abusive trolls and inexplicably low pay makes for a tough gig — and new research is looking into if the way these jobs are advertised has an effect on who applies for them.
Jessi Hempel, Wired