Numlock News: October 15, 2018

By Walt Hickey

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Wine Good Taster People

There have only been 274 people who have passed the exam to become a master sommelier, which is the fancy word for people good at tasting wine and serving wine. That small community is roiled by controversy this year as the Court of Master Sommeliers announced it will rescind the designation from 23 of the 24 people who passed the exam this year given evidence that one member disclosed confidential information prior to the exam. It’s an enormous controversy — it costs $995 to take the exam every time, requires an enormous amount of study, but that pays off: an advanced sommelier makes an average of $87,000 per year compared to the $164,000 a master sommelier pulls.

Monica Burton, Eater


A new report from the Director’s Guild of America shows promising change on television for women who direct. In the 2017-18 season, women directed 25 percent of episodic shows, up from 21 percent the previous year, and minority directors got 24 percent of directing jobs, up from 19 percent five years ago. All told, women directed 1,085 episodes of television and minorities directed 1,017 episodes.

David Robb, Deadline

Existential Loneliness

Every year IKEA runs a survey about how people live and this year they decided to look into enormous bummers. Their survey found that 20 percent of respondents felt most at home in a place that they did not in fact live, a figure that rose 15 percent among those in cities. Moreover, lots of people pursue third spaces to chill the heck out: 45 percent of Americans go to their car to get a moment of “mental privacy,” beaten only by the bedroom (72 percent) and the bathroom (55 percent). This is the kind of survey you design after accidentally flipping your sleep schedule and watching like four Werner Herzog documentaries in one weekend.

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, Fast Company

Lawsuit in the Skies

We know very, very little about it, but CNN’s parent company Turner and Dish Network are fighting over residuals in the skies, with damages ranging from $30 million to $100 million. Dish has the right to distribute CNN — owned by Turner — on commercial airlines, and Turner alleges that Dish hasn’t been correctly paying for the passengers who watch the network in the sky. Dish, on the other hand, claims that it was overpaying due to an error and will pay less until the difference is made up. It’s a whole mess and secret media fights are the best media fights because they are also the bareknuckleist media fights.

Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter


A report from the National Institution for Transforming India says that 21 Indian cities are projected to run out of groundwater by 2020: cities that include Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai and Bengaluru. That means that those cities will have to become net importers of water rather than being able to sustain the 100 million people who live there.

Lou Del Bello, BBC

Women’s Well-Being Apps

The market for “femtech” — apps and technical resources for women, like those that aid in tracking menstrual cycles or pregnancy or other health and well-being — is forecasted to be worth $50 billion by 2025. According to Forbes, only 10 percent of global investment goes to startups led by women, but this part of the technology sector stands out.

Isabel Woodford, The Guardian

Ballot Initiatives

In the past two election cycles there have been a surge of ballot initiatives pushed by citizens rather than legislatures. In 2016, there were 76 citizen initiated ballot initiatives, the highest in a decade. In 2018, thus far, 69 of the 154 statewide measures on the ballot originate from citizens. Still, lawmakers have been pushing back on this direct democracy: Measure 22 in South Dakota, which enforced campaign ethics regulations, was rolled back by legislators who would have been accountable to it. Initiative 77 in D.C. — which raised the minimum wage for tipped workers — is in the process of repeal.

Sarah Holder, CityLab

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