Numlock News: November 13, 2020 • Bribes, Singles, Plates

By Walt Hickey

Have a great weekend!

Singles Day

November 11 is Singles Day in China, their big annual shopping event, and this year was a real banger. The transactions on Alibaba surpassed the entirety of last year’s sales — 268.4 billion yuan — after just the first half-hour of sales. According to the e-commerce giant, buyers scored 498.2 billion yuan ($74 billion) worth of stuff over the course of the day, with the cadence of orders peaking at 583,000 placed per second. Alibaba rival reported sales of 271.5 billion yuan, up from the 204.4 billion seen last year. The big gimmick this year — one that’s also developing a footprint stateside, particularly owing to the pandemic closures of brick-and-mortar establishments — is livestreaming, a QVC-meets-Twitch pitch stream operated by merchants during hot shopping days.

CK Tan and Nikki Sun, Nikkei Asian Review


Police-grade tracking technology is making its way into the hands of homeowners associations and neighborhood watches, with many neighborhoods around the U.S. ponying up $2,000 per year for automatic license plate readers. Developed in the late 1970s, but only heavily commercialized in the past decade owing to tech advancements, any affluent neighborhood can get their hands on the law enforcement tool, and many have: Flock Safety, one manufacturer, claims that neighborhoods in 400 cities in 35 states use their gear, with HOAs being the main customer owing to the fact that paranoid busybodies who enjoy spending other people’s money for invasive snooping seem to be drawn to such enterprises.

Ella Fassler, OneZero


Switzerland announced with a heavy heart and a wet beak that sadly come 2022, bribes paid by companies to private individuals will no longer be tax-deductible. Yes, it’s a shame, and the end of an era of high finance where any god-fearing company could utilize the Alpine nation’s ample deductions for illegitimate business practices like any other tax write-off. Indeed, the change in 2022 will also put an end to the iconic, beloved law allowing money spent to facilitate crimes to be tax-deductible. This will align the tax code with the nation’s criminal code, which got around to making private bribes illegal in 2015. Naturally, Switzerland has long banned bribing public officials, they did that way back in the old days of… 2001? Seriously? What the hell guys?


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Last week, the people of Key West voted to ban the majority of cruise ships from major operators in a plebiscite. One referendum that passed with 63 percent of votes prohibits ships with more than 1,300 passengers from docking in the Keys, and a second that passed with 61 percent of the vote puts a 1,500 cap on daily cruise ship visitor. Beyond dialing back the tourism, the third referendum — which received a whopping 81 percent of the votes — underscores a key ambition of the vote by granting docking priority to cruise lines with the best environmental and health records, as advocates say large ships have been damaging the fragile reef ecosystems around the Keys. Further, they argued that while cruise passengers made up 50 percent of visitors, they contributed just 8 percent of visitor spending, an average $32 per passenger compared to the $550 spent on average by other tourists.

Sasha Brady, Lonely Planet


A study published in a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is a tough read in terms of uncontrolled virus spread, but no, not that one. Measles cases increased by 556 percent globally by 2019 from historic lows in 2016, with deaths from measles hitting 207,500 last year. The reason for this is a failure to vaccinate, according to authors of the report, and the deferred medical care of 2020 is seen as an event that could potentially exacerbate the spread of measles. Routine vaccinations fell off a cliff in March and April, and the researchers found a 2.5 million vaccine dose drop-off in the first four months of the year. 250,000 vaccinations of the total decline were for measles.

Julia Belluz, Vox


Just 24 percent of Americans said in a new Morning Consult poll they planned to start their holiday shopping earlier than usual this year, and that’s not exactly a great sign for a global supply chain that is already pretty gassed and a consumer base that doesn’t have a huge tolerance for late shipping during the holidays. According to a survey conducted October 30 to November 1, 44 percent of respondents hadn’t started shopping yet — down from 59 percent in mid-September — 21 percent had started, 11 percent were half done with holiday shopping, 9 percent were mostly done and 3 percent were done already. Most Americans who hadn’t started yet — 42 percent — intended to start sometime in late November, 21 percent in early December, and 5 percent planned to screw up Christmas real bad and start in late December.

Victoria Sakal, Morning Consult


A new study found that Hurricanes that have hit North America over the past 50 years have been retaining more of their strength after landfall than they had in the late 1960s. For the storms at the beginning of the study, a typical hurricane lost about 75 percent of its strength in the first 24 hours after landfall. Today, a comparable storm loses half its intensity in the first 24 hours. As hurricanes draw power from warm ocean water, hitting land usually drains them of strength in short order, but the rising ocean temperatures are believed to have slowed down that loss of power.

Chelsea Harvey, E&E News

This week in the Numlock Sunday edition, I spoke to Priyanka Runwal who wrote “Climate Change Hits Rock and Roll as Prized Guitar Wood Shortage Looms” for Scientific American. It’s a great read, and she’s a really great writer, you should follow Priyanka on Twitter.

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