By Walt Hickey
Substack rolled out some design tweaks, reply if anything got super weird today. Have a wonderful weekend!
Political Dark Money Means Better Craft Services
This past election, $4.5 billion was spent on traditional advertising on television. That’s a fortune and much of it went to broadcast television networks that are owned by the big media conglomerates. In the quarter leading up to the election Comcast reported a $380 million advertising revenue gain compared to the same quarter the previous year, CBS took in almost $400 million more year-over-year and 21st Century Fox said ad revenue rose 38 percent to $168 million, specifically crediting the midterms. This money may get reinvested into programming. By the transitive property, this functionally means that U.S. democracy is an elaborate wealth transfer from billionaire political extremists to network television actors.
Satanic Temple, Baphomet and Lawyers
The Satanic Temple is suing Warner Bros. and Netflix for $50 million, alleging that the series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina infringes on its copyright and defames its deity. In the show, Sabrina attends a magic school with a statue of Baphomet, a historical deity that was adapted by people linked to the occult in the mid-nineteenth century, and later adopted by The Satanic Temple in efforts to promote the separation of church and state. Linking the symbol to evil, the complaint says, distorts the First Amendment-related uses of the symbol.
Honeycrisp apples cost more than double the price of Red Delicious and Golden Delicious apples, which is a real savings given that they are like five times tastier than their relatives. In October, Honeycrisps sold for $2.19 per pound, compared to $1.02 for Red Delicious and $1.27 for Fuji. The same reason consumers love the fruit means apple farmers hate the variety. Other apples were bred to grow well, store well and shop well, whereas the Honeycrisp was bred for taste. Its inability to be an easy cog in the American agricultural machine drives prices up, makes them harder to grow and means only about 55 percent to 60 percent even make it to retail.
New York City is finally moving forward on a proposal to overhaul the private waste industry that will divide the city into 20 commercial waste zones rather than the Wild West style carting arrangement. The way things are now, a single garbage truck can inefficiently running across all five boroughs in a single evening. Of the 90 or so carting companies who haul commercial trash, currently anywhere from 14 to 52 serve each neighborhood. This leads to safety issues, harsh working conditions and unnecessary pollution. By dividing the city into 20 zones, each with up to five exclusive carting companies, the city can cut 18 million miles of truck traffic annually, a 63 percent reduction. The plan has been in development since 2016 and won’t go into full effect until 2023.
Children Who Vape
Preliminary U.S. government data shows that electronic cigarette usage rose 77 percent among high school students and almost 50 percent among middle schoolers in 2018. Middle schoolers! This means that 3.5 million children vaped in 2018, up from 1 million in 2017. This rapid acceleration is prompting what’s described as “severe restrictions” on sales from the FDA as early as next week.
Jeff Sessions is out of government for one day, and all of a sudden the federal government is spending a fortune on reefers: NOAA announced it will award $8.3 million in grants and cooperative agreements to conservation and scientific research of coral reefs. According to the Secretary of Commerce, coral reefs inject $3.4 billion into the U.S. economy annually. When you put it that way, kind of sounds like NOAA is getting a little cheap on us, yeah?
The total cost of electricity generated from a new wind farm in the U.S. ranges from $29 to $56 per megawatt-hour, before factoring in subsidies. Meanwhile, the marginal cost of operating a coal plant ranges from $27 to $45 per megawatt-hour. As a result, there are regularly times and places where even building a brand spankin’ new wind farm makes more sense than continuing to run a coal plant and that’s even ignoring the federal Production Tax Credit that brings the cost of wind power down to $14 per megawatt hour.
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