Numlock News: October 2, 2020 • Cocaine, Acid, Fleetwood Mac
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
On Thursday authorities in Belgium announced they’d dismantled a drug trafficking operation that smuggled enormous amounts of cocaine from South America into Europe by relying on corrupt police officers and container shipping. Last year a container with 2.8 tons of cocaine was found in the port city of Antwerp, which, not to get technical here, was considered by European authorities to be a clue. Since then, they’ve broken up an international network located in four European countries and South America, confiscating a total 3.5 tons of cocaine and 2 million euros, of which 1.3 million was cash. This week everything came crashing down amid 54 raids in Belgium plus searches in the Netherlands, Spain and U.K. that led to the arrests of 29 people. Eurojust said the network imported 10 shipments of 650 kilograms of cocaine each, worth 325 million euros.
The upper 3,000 meters of water in the northeast Pacific Ocean has lost 15 percent of its dissolved oxygen over the past 60 years, a new study by Fisheries and Oceans Canada reports. The change — attributed to climate change — threatens the life that exists along the coast of British Columbia, particularly, because the study also found that water in the top 500 meters was becoming more acidic at an alarming rate. Globally, oceans have seen a 2 percent loss in oxygen, which means that the northeast Pacific is in acute danger.
While studios have been notoriously cagey about the financial performance of the films originally intended for cinemas that became relegated to direct-to-VOD releases, turns out Bill & Ted Face The Music — a movie that cost $25 million to make, so hardly a top heavy tentpole — did stellar. The movie made $3.3 million in the 1,007 theaters that played it and also $32 million on Premium VOD. Distributor MGM was on the hook for $15 million in marketing costs but will see an 80 percent cut of the PVOD money, making it a reported $25.6 million for its troubles. Down the line — once it hits streaming, Blu-ray, digital and the television rights — it should emerge one of the few movies of the pandemic era firmly in the black.
In the second quarter of the year sales of bikes were 81 percent higher than they were in the same quarter of 2019, with April alone moving $1 billion in bicycles compared to the typical value of $550 million to $575 million. Giant, the largest bike manufacturer in the world, reportedly sold 48 percent more bikes direct-to-consumer this past August than it did in 2019 according to third-party data from Second Measure, while rival Specialized saw its direct sales up 213 percent. Those in the industry say it’s the biggest boom for bikes since the ‘70s, which now I really want to know what went down in the ‘70s that made bikes pop. This also means people are pulling bikes out of storage and getting tune-ups to a degree never really seen before, with bicycle repair shops seeing unprecedented business.
TikTok has secured a fundamental social good with the enormous virality of a post from user @420doggface208 causing an entire generation to rediscover Fleetwood Mac, thus giving Gen Z the emotional fuel they’ll need for sordid relationships and sloppy breakups for years to come. The video — showing Nathan Apodaca, the account owner, drinking cran-raspberry juice while skateboarding on a highway in Idaho while “Dreams” plays — exploded in popularity, propelling Fleetwood Mac to newfound notoriety among the youths. Sales of the song were up 184 percent as of Monday, streams were up 127 percent on Spotify, Apple said the number of times people used the Shazam song finding service to place it was up 1,137 percent, and the number of first-time listeners to the song was up 242 percent on Friday. Fleetwood Mac, for teens just learning about them, were basically a hype house that collabed, dated, got divorced (yeah, also they were married), got cheated on, absolutely hated one another, and basically devolved into utter toxicity while making a basically perfect album in 1976.
Quibi, the vaunted streaming service that fizzled upon launch despite a colossal investment from titans of tech and media, is in a real tight spot. Per an analysis of reported and public financial statements, the company is looking at a funding shortfall of $1.8 billion by 2024 and $6 billion by 2030 in one scenario. This is an issue, as Quibi agreed to give up the rights to its content back to its creators after seven years, which means that it’s running on borrowed time in terms of constructing a library. In 2019, the average churn rate of subscribers for streaming services was 35 percent; if Quibi hits that rate, the shortfall could be in double-digit billions by 2030.
Between February and April, fully 10 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 lost their jobs. Roughly half of the employment lost over that period has recovered, but it hasn’t recovered evenly. White Americans recovered over half of the jobs they lost in the period, while Black Americans recovered just a third of the jobs lost. The young were hurt more than older workers: 20 percent of people aged 20 to 24 lost their job in those months. They’ve also been slower to bounce back, as among those aged 25 to 34, only 43 percent recovered their lost employment. The recessions effects were more severe and have lasted longer for middle class and poorer Americans, in contrast to earlier recessions where poor and rich alike took a hit and recovered en masse.
This past Sunday featured an interview with Sarah Shevenock of Morning Consult, whose excellent work polling entertainment and media this summer has appeared repeatedly in Numlock. It’s a great interview you should check out, Sarah can be found at Morning Consult, on Twitter and at her newsletter.
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2020 Sunday subscriber editions: Streaming Summer · Dynamite · One Billion Americans · Defector · Seams of the Grid · Bodies of Work · Working in Public · Rest of World · Worst Quarter ·Larger Than Life · Streaming · Wildlife Crime · Climate Solutions · Blue Skies ·