Current Affairs

Unopened Super Mario 64 game from 1996 sells for $1.56M

An unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 has sold at auction for $1.56 million.

Heritage Auctions in Dallas said that the 1996 game sold Sunday, breaking its previous record price for the sale of a single video game.

A spokesman did not immediately respond to an inquiry about who purchased the game.

Super Mario 64 was the best-selling game on the Nintendo 64 and the first to feature the Mario character in 3D, the auction house said in a statement.

The sale follows an unopened copy of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda selling at auction Friday for $870,000. Valarie McLeckie, Heritage’s video game specialist, said the auction house was shocked to see a game sell for more than a $1 million two days after the Zelda game broke its past record.

In April, the auction house sold an unopened copy of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. that was bought in 1986 and forgotten about in a desk drawer for $660,000…read more.

The World’s Tech Giants, Compared to the Size of Economies

It’s no secret that tech giants have exploded in value over the last few years, but the scale can be hard to comprehend.

Through wide-scaling market penetration, smart diversification, and the transformation of products into services, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google have reached market capitalizations well above $1.5 trillion.

To help us better understand these staggering numbers, a recent study at Mackeeper took the market capitalization of multiple tech giants and compared them with the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries. Click to see full article.

Instagram Shuts Down Cannabis Culture Mag Account While Apple Allows Pot-Centric Apps On Its Store

Just when it feels like we’re shaking off the stigma and are edging closer to federal legalization and social acceptance of cannabis, one of the world’s most powerful social media sites bans a weed-related online magazine.

Facebook-owned (NASDAQ: FB) Instagram recently and without explanation shut down Cannabis Culture Magazine’s account on June 28th, reported Cannabis Culture.

Why? The magazine’s editors seem not to have a clue.

The last posting published on Cannabis Culture before getting tossed off Instagram was a screenshot of an article about Rhode Island cannabis workers calling for a one-day strike on June 26 in support of unionized workers at the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center.

As it turns out, the magazine’s page was unceremoniously removed within an hour of this posting “without warning or notice as to any violation of community guidelines.”

Although Cannabis Culture recognized the possibility of coincidence in timing, it pointed out that it was left with no explanation or means to contact or appeal to Instagram in order to find one.

“Thus far, all attempts to reestablish the page have proven fruitless,” the Canadian-based Cannabis Culture wrote.

Because of new rules enforced by Facebook, the magazine is being prevented from creating a new account with the word “cannabis” as part of the username, the report went on. “We have no way of knowing the reason for the ban, because Instagram will not provide us with the reason we’ve been banned. We have no means of recourse or appeal.”…read more.

TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking notice

“BookTok” has sent old books back to the top of bestseller lists and helped launch the careers of new authors. Videos with the BookTok hashtag have been viewed a collective 12.6 billion times.

Author Adam Silvera four years ago released the young adult science fiction novel “They Both Die at the End,” which found success and landed a few weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

But years later in August 2020, Silvera said his publisher noticed a significant sales bump, the start of a trend that would send the book to the top of the New York Times’ young adult paperback monthly bestseller list in April, where it still reigns. Silvera had no idea where the sales spike was coming from.

“I kept commenting to my readers, ‘Hey, don’t know what’s happening, but there’s been a surge in sales lately, so grateful that everybody’s finding the story years later,’” Silvera said. “And then that’s when a reader was like, ‘I’m seeing it on BookTok.’ And I had no idea what they were talking about.”

“BookTok” is a community of users on TikTok who post videos reviewing and recommending books, which has boomed in popularity over the past year. TikTok videos containing the hashtag #TheyBothDieAtTheEnd have collectively amassed more than 37 million views to date, many of which feature users reacting — and often crying — to the book’s emotional ending.

BookTok’s impact on the book industry has been notable, helping new authors launch their careers and propelling books like Silvera’s to the top of bestseller lists years after their original publication. Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles,” E. Lockhart’s “We Were Liars” and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” — all of which were published before BookTok began to dominate the industry — are among some of the other books that have found popularity on the app years after their initial release.

Retailers like Barnes & Noble have taken advantage of BookTok’s popularity to market titles popular on the app to customers by creating specialized shelves featuring books that have gone viral…read more.

What’s next for Amazon’s Bezos? Look at his Instagram

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said it was time to bust out the tequila.

Standing by the seashore, the celebrity wrestler and film star put his arm around Jeff Bezos, Inc’s (AMZN.O) founder. Bezos, in sunglasses, smiled for a picture and then shared it on the ‘gram. The men had just announced a movie deal for Amazon Studios.

Bezos, 57, is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO on Monday. He’ll remain executive chairman and the company’s biggest shareholder, but his Instagram account shows he has plenty of other interests to occupy his time.

The science fiction fan is planning a joy ride to suborbital space with his best friend and brother, Mark, this month, one recent post said. In another, Bezos is behind the wheel of an electric pickup truck built by Rivian, a startup that Amazon funded, traversing the desert in a cowboy hat to see a rocket capsule land.

The final frontier has long beckoned Bezos, who has poured billions of dollars into his company Blue Origin to promote tourism and infrastructure in space. The venture’s first crewed flight is to embark July 20, less than two weeks after Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to commence a new epoch of travel beyond earth…read more.

Toyota, after hoarding chips, blows away GM for first time ever.

Ford Motor was the last major automaker to report US sales for June on Friday. Most others reported US sales on Thursday. GM and FCA don’t report monthly sales; they only report quarterly, so Q2 sales. Tesla doesn’t report US sales at all; it only reports quarterly global sales, and the industry guesses its US sales. The semiconductor shortage and supply-chain fiasco were written all over auto sales in June.

June sales for the industry overall fell to 1.30 million vehicles, down 14.2% from June 2019, after a strong March, April, and May (data by Bureau of Economic Analysis). In terms of the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of sales, which takes the number of selling days and other seasonal factors into account and then annualizes the result, vehicle sales came out this way:
• June: 15.4 million SAAR, -9.5% from June 2019; except for the collapse last spring, it was the lowest for any month since January 2014.
• May: 17.0 million SAAR, -1.0% from May 2019.
• April: 18.6 million SAAR, highest total for any month in 16 years, +7.4% from April 2019.
• March: 17.9 million SAAR, +7.9% from March 2019.

Automakers have shifted production to their highest profit-margin units; and they’ve cut incentives, and dealers are charging record prices, over sticker in many cases. As a result, the average transaction price and average per-unit gross profits have spiked to records in June, as consumers have adopted a new attitude that I have never seen on dealer lots before.

Rather than haggle till they get the price down, or go on buyers’ strike as they had done for a couple of years during the Great Recession, consumers are paying whatever it takes to get a new or used vehicle as their whole mindset about inflation has changed.

But Ford’s total sales in June plunged 26.9% year-over-year to 115,789 vehicles, with retail sales down 32.5%. These are deliveries by dealers to their customers, or by Ford to large fleet customers, such as rental car companies.

Ford has given up on cars. The only “car” it still manufactures is the Mustang. It killed all its other car lines. And that sales volume just went to Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Kia, etc. And total car sales, after having collapsed every year for years, collapsed by another 82% in June year-over-year, to just 2,868 Mustangs and a handful of leftover Fusions that were still sitting on dealer lots.

F-150 sales plunged 30% year-over-year in June to 45,673 trucks. In terms of SUVs, Escape sales plunged 40% to 8,871 units, Explorer sales plunged 38% to 9,445 units, and Expedition sales plunged 43% to 7,453 units. These are all popular models with plenty of demand…read more.