Numlock News: October 11, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Today is the 100th weekday edition of Numlock News! Thank you so much for subscribing. I have a longer note down below.

American Cheese

Processed American Cheese is having a dire moment, with the average retail price of a pound slipping to $3.946, the first time a pound of yellow American has fallen below $4 per pound since 2011. Sales of processed cheese are projected to drop 1.6 percent this year. There will still be about $2.77 billion in retail sales this year. I’m doing my part: my love for bona fide cheese is exceeded only by my love of inexpensive, savory, we-legally-cannot-call-it-cheese cheese because me and Velveeta are literally from the same place.

Lydia Mulvany and Leslie Patton, Bloomberg

Agreement to Not Fish

In a landmark international agreement, the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, Denmark, China, Japan, Iceland, South Korea, and the European Union have agreed to refrain from fishing in the Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years. The nations agreed to not fish in 1.1 million square miles, a span larger than the Mediterranean. Previously un-fishable portions of the Arctic are now accessible to fishing boats due to ice melting, which prompted the agreement.

Craig Welch, National Geographic

Goat Meat

Goat accounts for 6 percent of red meat consumption worldwide, with the average earth resident consuming 1.7 pounds of goat per year. If that sounds high for you, if you’re American it probably is: people in the U.S. eat only 0.25 pounds of goat meat per capita every year out of the 222.2 pounds of red meat and poultry we consume annually. Goat meat is not only comparatively healthier than many other types of meat, but goats are also more sustainable to raise. I live in Queens, so my diet is closer to the global figure than the domestic one, but the domestic palate may be changing: surveys show that while only 23 percent of U.S. consumers have tried goat, in the past four years goat’s appearances on menus have surged 14 percent.

Julie Kendrick, HuffPost

Worst Hiring Practices

Congratulations to Amazon, which successfully invented a sexist robot. In 2015, the company realized that a machine learning program they had developed to sift through resumes was not evaluating candidates in a gender-free manner and penalized resumes that included the word “women’s,” as in “women’s robotics champion” or “women’s lacrosse team.” This was because it based its prioritization on previously accepted resumes, which were mostly men. The program was reportedly disbanded early last year. Amazon is 60 percent male globally, and does not disclose gender figures on its technical roles, but in peer companies Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft tech roles are 77 percent to 81 percent male.

Jeffrey Dastin, Reuters


A new Morning Consult survey found that 58 percent of Americans are not interested in the political and social views of celebrities they like, while 9 percent are strongly interested in the opinions of entertainers. There can be some effect where celebs motivate fans: 11 percent said they’ve made a donation or volunteered because a star encouraged them to. I’d like to think I’m in the group of people who can’t be easily persuaded by a celebrity, but if Sigourney Weaver personally asked me to vote Doctor Doom for governor, I probably would.

Jeremy Barr, The Hollywood Reporter


I recently ran out of paper, so I went to CVS and bought a toothbrush and I have been able to use the voluminous receipt as paper for the past two weeks. Part of this is that drug stores add all sorts of stuff to their receipts when you use a loyalty card, even a single item. The difference between a normal RiteAid receipt and one after using a RiteAid BonusCash card is 4.5 inches. The difference between a Duane Reade receipt and one with the rewards card is 2.75 inches. CVS? Not so much. A normal receipt is 10.5 inches. One with an ExtraCare Card was, according to a Vox study, 4 feet, 1.5 inches, a difference of 39 inches.

Rachel Sugar, Vox


The global orthodontic market is projected to rise to $2.6 billion by 2023, up from $1.5 billion in 2016. Motivating some of that growth — besides vanity, that universal motivation for spending thousands of dollars on a mouth — are people who otherwise would have forgone teeth alignment, a figure estimated to be 300 million people in an SEC filing by orthodontic company Align. That’s one reason that SmileDirectClub, an in-home teeth straightening company, raised a $380 million funding round that gives the company a $3.2 billion valuation.

Janine Wolf, Bloomberg

Today was edition #100 of Numlock! To all the folks who came with me when I left FiveThirtyEight, and to all who joined along the way, thanks for reading. I took a leap of faith starting this and I’m really grateful for your continued readership.

I wanted to share some good news! I’m joining INSIDER as a Senior Editor for Data starting in November. I’m super excited, I’ll have all sorts of resources to tell cool stories about news and culture from a data perspective.

What does this mean for Numlock?

The short answer is “nothing,” as Numlock remaining independent and self-owned was a prerequisite for me taking any full-time job.

My goal with Numlock was to invest my time in serving a long-term, sustainable audience. I like newsletters because I think social media isn’t a great way to get news and can be a little corrosive. Ads bore me, so I don’t sell them and you don’t see them. The subscribers who pay for Numlock make it well worth the time to write it and ensure that it remains possible. I’m in this for the long haul. Thank you for reading.

Previous Sunday special editions: 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

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