Numlock News: September 21, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Good morning!


Spider-Man for the PlayStation 4 has become Sony’s best-selling game, with 3.3 million copies sold in the first three days of release. Ignoring any bundles and sticking with the $59.99 basic sale price for the game, that would mean the game had sales in the ballpark of at least $198 million, which is particularly nuts when placed next to the $117 million that the 2017 film Spider-Man: Homecoming made in its first weekend. For those unfamiliar, Spider-Man is the story of our hero, a hardworking and plucky editor named J. Jonah Jameson, as he attempts to make a newspaper. This despite the failures of mediocre photojournalist Peter Parker, a useless slacker uniquely bad at getting pictures of a local threat and menace named Spider-Man.

Eli Blumenthal, USA TODAY

A Bunch Of Ruined Ted Talks

A Cornell University food psychology researcher had 6 high-profile studies retracted by the journal network JAMA, bringing the total number of retracted studies to 13 from the researcher and prompting him to retire early. The stories were retracted because of serious doubts about the scientific validity of the studies. You may have heard of some of them: findings that have been retracted include papers that claim shopping hungry leads to people buying more calories, pre-ordering lunch leading to healthier choices, and large serving bowls encouraging larger portions. Reality is, you can’t trust what you read about nutrition.

Brian Resnick and Julia Belluz, Vox


The Ranch Fire, which became the largest wildfire in the history of California, has finally been contained. The blaze was declared extinguished on Wednesday, with a final count of 459,123 acres claimed by the fire. This was California’s second-hottest summer on record.

Brian Kahn, Gizmodo

Women To Higher Office

In 2014, 41 percent of women said that they believed that many Americans were not ready to elect a woman to higher office and that was a major reason why there are fewer women than men in those sorts of positions. When that question was asked in 2018, 57 percent of women believed that. In 2014, 31 percent of men agreed, which skyrocketed to, uh, 32 percent in 2018. Gosh, I wonder if there was some sort of extremely specific incident that made one out of every six women in America lose faith in a meaningful portion of the electorate.

Pew Research Center

Fake Handbags

New trade disputes make this a booming time for the sellers of fake knockoff luxury handbags. The counterfeit handbags are already smuggled into the country, while the bona fide designer brands have to go through “customs” and pay “import taxes” and “not be illegal.” About 85 percent of the replicas originate in China and Hong Kong. The global counterfeit trade — purses, electronics, software — is worth an estimated $461 billion. Be wary of imitators of the genuine article!

Danielle Paquette, The Washington Post

Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.


An estimated 3.4 million poultry birds were killed in North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence. For perspective, the state had about 830 million chickens and 32 million turkeys last year. Heavy rains in South Carolina are a also a concern for cotton farms, as the severe weather reportedly could not come at a worse time during the crop’s life cycle.

Andrea Diaz and Carma Hassan, CNN


Television network AMC has gone from a diversified purveyor of high-brow television (see: Mad Men, Breaking Bad) to a network predicated entirely on distributing The Walking Dead and the ancillary programming and spin-offs related to The Walking Dead. The company has a market value of $3.6 billion, and Wall Street doesn’t really see it getting much higher: while five years ago 63 percent of analysts gave AMC Networks a “buy” recommendation, today only 15 percent do, while 75 percent recommend holding. This may mean that AMC is the target of the appetites of larger media conglomerates who mindlessly chase content producers like a ravenous, shambolic hoard.

Tara Lachapelle, Bloomberg

Have a great weekend! This weekend’s Sunday Special is an interview with CityLab’s Sarah Holder, who also co-authors the weekly tech newsletter Meatspace. We talk about NIMBYs and YIMBYs and developers and more.

Thank you so much for subscribing! If you're enjoying the newsletter, forward it to someone you think may enjoy it too! 

Previous Sunday special editions: Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores

Send links to me on Twitter at @WaltHickey or email me with numbers, tips, or feedback at