Numlock News: November 20, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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British Invasion

Taco Bell will open its first location in London, realizing the full potential of the Anglo-American alliance and offering to the British people the single greatest cultural product in the history of the country. The restaurant is feverishly opening restaurants internationally as part of a drive toward 9,000 Taco Bell locations up from the present count of 7,000. Who can say how well Taco Bell will integrate with the world-famous cuisine of the United Kingdom? It’s unclear if there will be a robust demand from discerning Britons for mildly seasoned savory meat slurry, passable beans or uninspired cheddar-adjacent cheeses.

Leslie Patton, Bloomberg


BTS, the K-Pop boy band that managed to penetrate the mainstream international music scene, just beat One Direction with the largest event-cinema box attendance ever. One Direction got 1.2 million admissions for “One Direction: Where We Are,” a figure topped by “Burn the Stage: The Movie,” which notched 1.4 million admissions. If this is the first time you’re hearing about the Korean sensation or One Direction’s now 2nd place film, now is a great time to brush up if you want to understand the vicious Thanksgiving arguments the cool kids table will be having.

Stewart Clarke, Variety

Japanese Buyers

From January through October, Japanese companies purchased 211 U.S. companies, beating the record set 28 years ago of 193. While rival China has been cut off from the U.S. by trade fighting, Japan has low interest rates and cash to burn. The $141 billion Japanese companies spending on 620 deals is on course to be the highest deal value for Japan ever.

Mai Nemoto, Nikkei

European Olympics

The city council of Calgary, Canada unanimously voted to end its bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. Last week Calgarians voted 56 percent against hosting the Olympic Games a second time. The provincial government offered $700 million to support the bid had the vote landed on “yes,” and the Canadian government offered to match total public funds put toward the enormously stupid and shortsighted act of hosting The Olympics. Congratulations to either Sweden or Italy, who have the remaining two bids and will get to hold the bag for this inevitable financial boondoggle slash sporting competition. The idea that people can vote against throwing billions of state dollars at an enormous annoyance is news to me, a dude who lives in a non-rent controlled apartment 15 minutes away from Amazon’s next HQ2.

Madeline Smith, The Star Calgary

Organ Donors

While 58 percent of U.S. adults are registered as organ donors, demand outpaces supply and likely always will. For a number of reasons — safer vehicles and longer lifespans — there’s always going to be more people who need functioning organs than those who can provide them. One way out of this is through xenotransplantation, or placing animal organs into human bodies. Animal tissues have already saved lives — pig pancreases produce insulin, pig heart valves and corneas have been successfully used to replace ailing tissue — but successfully generating acceptable organs from animals is the top goal. Overcoming immune system incompatibility is the challenge, and through genetic manipulation and immunosuppressive drugs scientists are getting closer.

Tom Clynes, The New York Times Magazine

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In the 2018 election cycle nine federal candidates, parties and PACs received the equivalent of $570,000 in cryptocurrency political contributions. That’s peanuts compared the the $2.5 billion at play in the election overall, but it actually does open up some tricky questions about contribution limits. The FEC is studying the issue — political contributions are limited to $2,700 per candidate per election, and crypto is shall we say volatile. If there’s anyone who I trust on this issue, it’s the bureaucrats who have faithfully ensured that money never taints or interferes in American federal politics. Oh, also the person with more money still wins the overwhelming majority of the time.

Ashley Balcerzak, The Center for Public Integrity


Last year an estimated 435,000 people died from Malaria from 220 million cases. We’ve hit a wall when it comes to preventing the disease to an extent, according to the WHO. While Pakistan, Rwanda and India have made enormous strides — India had 3 million fewer cases in 2017 than in 2016. The countries where malaria endures — Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and more — have either failed to make progress or backslid in eradication efforts, meaning that the slide in deaths from 2003 to 2013 has gone flat.

Donald G. McNeil, Jr., The New York Times

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