Numlock News: April 16, 2020 • XFL, Cocaine, Bananas
By Walt Hickey
The XFL was a start-up football league that played all of five games in its most recent first season, but was forced to fold because of widespread shutdowns and also a curse on the concept of the XFL. Wednesday the company outlined plans to sell the league, using a $3.5 million loan offered by founder and WWE Chairman Vince McMahon to sell the IP by July 15. If you’re in the market, it’s not often that a sports league goes up for sale; the XFL’s name, trademarks, slogan, and eight teams — all owned by the league directly, including their merch, equipment and individual IP rights — are up for grabs. The XFL has roughly $5.6 million cash on hand, and may need to burn some of that before hitting up Vince for a loan. XFL season tickets — costing $100 to $600 each — need to be refunded, but one can only assume they knew the risks of buying season tickets to the XFL, essentially the sporting equivalent of buying the stud rights to a mayfly.
In all sorts of U.S. states people need occupational licenses in order to do jobs that don’t really need workers to jump through all those hoops. At this time, the initial concern is in medical jobs — it’s not abundantly clear why a nurse from Georgia needs to pay a ton of money to the state of Florida to flex in for a shift where he’s most needed — but longer term it probably makes sense to consider removing some of those more onerous requirements. In the 1950s, just one in 20 Americans needed a license from the government to work in their job, but today that’s one in four. Licensing costs consumers $200 billion annually, and looking at 102 low and middle-income jobs the average fees amounted to $267.
On Tuesday, a civil court near Paris ruled that by Wednesday evening, Amazon must restrict deliveries to just food, hygiene and medical products until it addresses issues brought up by its worker unions that they’re not providing personal protective equipment to their warehouse workers. Amazon contested the findings, but the court said it had to carry out the order or pay a fine of 1 million euros per day. Amazon has now halted all operations in France for five days, will pay its 10,000 workers fully during the period in question, and will enhance its safety measures.
Canadian officials seized three large parcels of hard drugs at Toronto Pearson International Airport in a one-week period, including 25 kilograms of cocaine (about $3 million worth) and 4.1 kilograms of hashish worth about $82,000. The seizures went down on commercial flights between March 21 and March 29, and let’s be honest if you think the time you’re least likely to get your bag thoroughly screened is when there’s like two other people on the plane, you probably deserve to lose your $3 million dollars worth of cocaine.
Though there are 7,000 languages and dialects in the world, only about 7 percent of those are represented somehow online. Facebook supports 111 languages, a small fraction but still the most translated site on the internet. Still, half of all websites online are in English, and fully 98 percent of the web pages on the internet are written in just one of 12 languages. Some folks are working to broaden the scope of the net by translating browsers like Firefox or sites like Wikipedia into less popular tongues. About 75 percent of the web’s top-level domains come from Europe and North America, as do over 80 percent of the articles on Wikipedia.
We All Scream
In New York City, ice cream trucks are a serious business, with Mister Softee locked in vicious combat with primary rival New York Ice Cream company. But all is not well within the Mister Softee kingdom: though management feels like this is not the right time to have ice cream trucks running up and down the blocks, approximately 10 ice cream truck franchisees have defied the orders from on high and gone rogue and are now roaming the boroughs. Legally, the company can’t stop the 80 Brooklyn-based franchisees or their 350 trucks from hitting the pavement during, shall we say, a less than ideal time.
The Philippines produced about 20 percent of the world’s banana shipments in 2019, and in Asia the country accounts for 90 percent of banana export volumes. The problem? The main island, Luzon, has been locked down since mid-March, and bananas need to be harvested every day or else they’ll spoil on the tree. Right now, projections are that exports will be down 40 percent this year, down to 2.5 million tons of bananas from 4 million last year. If there’s any consolation, given the absence of their primary source of food, I think this will do a real number on the Minion population and plausibly thin out the herd a bit.
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