Numlock News: September 29, 2021 • Lego, Horses, Take The Money and Run

By Walt Hickey

Lego

Lego reported making 23 billion Danish kroner ($3.62 billion) in the first half of the year, up 46 percent. That’s good enough to be the biggest toy company in the world, beating out the $2.43 billion made by Hasbro in the first half (up 24 percent) and the $1.9 billion made by Mattel over the same period (43 percent). While Hasbro announced it’s planning on raising prices, Lego’s holding things steady despite the ongoing issues with the whole “global supply chain catastrophe” thing. Lego’s boosted by a significant presence in China, where it has 40 percent of its 737 global stores.

Trefor Moss, The Wall Street Journal

Art

Jens Haaning, a Danish artist, was paid 534,000 kroner ($84,000) to reproduce a sculpture about labor he made in 2007 and 2010 out of actual literal currency. Well, let’s just say that artistic inspiration struck Haaning, and he produced two novel works. They were two empty frames, part of a conceptual art piece called Take The Money and Run (2021). They’re perfect, and I love them.

Taylor Dafoe, ArtNet

Judging the Judge

A review of the annual financial disclosure forms from 2010 to 2018 for about 700 federal judges found that 129 federal district judges and two appellate judges had at least one case they handled where a plaintiff or defendant was a company whose stock they or a close family member owned, which in legal terms is called a big no-no. In 173 cases the judges’ stockholdings were above $15,000, and in 21 cases they exceeded $50,000. In 61 cases, judges or their families went so far as to trade those very stocks during the case.

James V. Grimaldi, Coulter Jones and Joe Palazzolo, The Wall Street Journal

Horses

There are an estimated 7,741 wild horses in Wyoming, and the Bureau of Land Management is planning to round up about 4,300 of them starting in October. Of those, about 800 of the wild horses will be returned to the range, while 3,500 will be removed in the interest of managing the land for long-term stability. Overall, there’s around 71,000 wild horses in the United States, with the bulk of them in Nevada with 43,000.

Vincent Del Giudice, Bloomberg

USPS

The United States Postal Service will begin to roll out new, worse standards of service that will slow delivery times by 30 percent. According to a spokesperson, 61 percent of first-class mail and 93 percent of periodicals will not be affected by the shift, which is a fascinating way of articulating that 39 percent of first-class mail is going to get way worse! In the quarter ending June 30, the USPS satisfied the standard for first-class delivery just 83.6 percent of the time.

Jonathan Franklin, NPR

Ships

One contributor to the long lines outside of ports is that the container ships rolling in are far more loaded than typical. In the first half of 2021, the average number of containers per ship at the port of Long Beach was up 73 percent compared to the first quarter of 2019, compared to an increase of 12 percent in Rotterdam and 23 percent in Shanghai. As a result, it’s making things take way longer on the American side: the average time to unload a container in Asia is 27 second, the average time in Northern Europe is 46 seconds, and the average time in North America is 76 seconds.

Nicolás Rivero, Quartz

Mini-Programs

A really unique component of China’s app ecosystem is the “mini-program,” which is a cheap application that operates within one of the mega apps like WeChat and Alipay. For instance, you can walk into a coffee shop, scan a QR code with an app, and then an app-within-an-app boots up for the establishment. They’re cheap — you can get one for $500 plus a bit for maintenance on the go — and as of the end of last year there were over 6 million mini-programs. However, there are some privacy concerns: a team of researchers found less than 40 percent of mini-programs laid out privacy terms.

Mengyu Dong, Rest of World

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