Numlock News: September 10, 2021 • Spider-Man, Strawberry Shortcake, Rice Beer

By Walt Hickey

Have a wonderful weekend!


A copy of the first-ever comic featuring Spider-Man, Amazing Fantasy no. 15, sold for $3.6 million, the most ever for a comic book. It swung in and defeated the previous record-holder, a copy of Action Comics no. 1 that sold for $3.25 million and featured the first appearance of Superman. The Spider-Man comic is one of only four known copies that exist in the near-mint condition of CGC 9.6, and no known copies are higher than that. The comic tells a story of a beloved guy named Ben, best known as the uncle of a selfish dork named Peter, and the fantastic, if brief, adventures he has over the course of the book.

Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter

Strawberry Shortcake

Over their hegemony during the 1980s, the Strawberry Shortcake brand of dolls was moving $500 million in product annually and sold over 5 million Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Things have been rocky for the baker since, and four years ago, the company called DHX Media, now Wildbrain, scooped up the franchise in a $345 million acquisition of the entertainment brand of Iconix. The machinations of corporate management of I.P began spinning, and now in classic form for an ‘80s icon she’s back in the form of a YouTube show.

Kelly Gilblom, Bloomberg

Gotta Have My Vape

The Food and Drug Administration has dropped the hammer, rejecting applications for 950,000 electronic cigarette related products, citing their appeal to underage kids. Many are on the market now, and many were just in the proposal phase. In addition to the 4.5 million products it rejected immediately due to the absence of key information, that means the FDA took action on 93 percent of the applications. It’s a colossal ruling, but one brand left out of it is Juul. The FDA instead said it’s delaying the decision on Juul and some of the other major manufacturers while it takes more time to review the products. Sales of Juul accounts for half of the $4 billion electronic nicotine market.

Matthew Perrone, The Associated Press

Pre-Irish Wake

Residue left on eight of 13 pots found at a 9,000-year-old burial site in China have turned up evidence of fossilized plant remains from rice, tubers and another plant, and starches found indicate evidence of fermentation. That’s right: researchers have discovered evidence of an extremely rowdy funeral, where several people in attendance got lit on rice beer, the archeological equivalent of finding a bunch of red solo cups in a pile out back of a frat house.

Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica

Less Specificity

Researchers in the United Kingdom tried to find the best way to explain gaps in a resume, sending out resumes and cover letters to 9,000 vacancies and tweaking how the resumes were displayed. One set of resumes showed a 2.5 year gap since the last job, one set showed a 2.5 year gap explained as a childcare gap, and the third set replaced dates of employment with the number of years of experience. There wasn’t a difference in call-backs whether or not the person explained the gap; however, when they just presented the years of experience, call-backs were up 15 percent, a strategy that could push back on age or gender discrimination.

Dan Ariely, The Wall Street Journal


With little competition coming in week two, Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is projected to earn between $26 and $34 million at the domestic box office, which would be a 55 to 65 percent decrease from its opening weekend. That would be rather typical for a pre-pandemic Marvel release, and how well the film holds up in second week numbers could give — or take away — confidence that some studios have in the possible recovery of the box office. The movie is already the fastest pandemic-era release to make $100 million.

Rebecca Rubin, Variety


Last year, masking and social distancing to hem in the coronavirus had a knock-on effect of also wiping out the flu pretty much entirely. In the 2019-20 season, there was an estimated 38 million cases of the flu in the United States. In the 2020-21 season, there were only a couple thousand. This coming flu season remains a bit of an enigma, but it’s expected to be worse than last year, if not as bad as usual. Annually, there’s typically around 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations for the flu, and this year one model has 102,000 more hospitalizations than last flu season if the shot is on par with last year. Last year, 55 percent of adults got a flu shot in the U.S., up from the 48 percent the previous year, and GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca and Sanofi are supplying 188 to 200 million flu shots this year, around last year’s record high.

Felicia Schwartz, The Wall Street Journal

We’ve had two great interviews on the past two Sundays you should check out.

One, with Morning Consult’s Sarah Shevenock, talked about the ongoing fiasco going on over at Jeopardy! and her polling around it. Shevenock can be found at Morning Consult, where she writes their morning entertainment brief, and on Twitter.

Last Sunday’s, with Kylie Mohr of High Country News, was all about the effects that wildfires have been having on people, livestock and the West as a whole. You should check out her story “For dairy cows, where there’s smoke, there’s less milk,” and Kylie can be found at High Country News, which you should subscribe to, and on Twitter.

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