Numlock News: April 21, 2022 • Magic: The Gathering, Salt, Touchdowns
By Walt Hickey
Not How Bids Are Supposed To Work
In February, the Kansas legislature approved $1.2 billion in a corporate subsidy for a corporation whose name has not been disclosed, with many members of the legislature signing NDAs over the identity of the company. Well, funny thing, on Monday the governor of Oklahoma announced that the state was going to offer $700 million in incentives to, you guessed it, a corporation whose name has not been disclosed, and he too had signed a non-disclosure agreement. The scuttlebutt is that both states are falling over themselves to compete for the same exact facility, which is reportedly a Panasonic electric vehicle battery plant, and the states are willing to race to the bottom and dive into public money in order to get the facility on this or that side of the border.
Hasbro announced earnings this week, with the toymaker posting $1.163 billion in sales and $61.2 million in net earnings in the first quarter. The powerhouse of the company isn’t Transformers, isn’t My Little Pony, but now Wizards of the Coast, which makes Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. The division alone was responsible for $262.8 million of Hasbro sales, or just shy of a quarter, and operating profits were at $106.4 million in the Wizards of the Coast and Digital Gaming segments of the company, meaning that all of the black ink on the toymaker’s ledger pretty much came from the nerdy tabletop parts of the company.
Last year, quarterback Tom Brady threw his final touchdown and hung up his cleats for good, capping a career that will go into history as one of the greats — actually, wait, scratch that, he’s not retiring, shut it down. The final touchdown ball that Brady threw sold for $518,000 at auction mere hours before the quarterback announced he would not actually retire and would return, a stunning reversal that obviously would wipe out the value of the memorabilia. Now, we know what went down: The ball sold to a Miami real estate developer, and the buyer got lucky when the auction house decided to void the sale.
The Oakland A’s are a team of 26 people on payroll in a league where teams are allowed to have 40 people on the roster, a team that is spending just $300,000 over the minimum salary per player and is making one of the most obvious attempts to tank in the history of baseball, as the ownership reportedly wants to up and move the team to a different town. Well, the fans are meeting the owners where they are: On Tuesday night, when they played the Baltimore Orioles, they had just 3,748 people in attendance, a fraction of the paltry 17,503 who attended Oakland’s home opener. This averages to 38 people per section. Still, there’s lower to go: The 1979 A’s, which stunk so bad the fans got the owner to eventually sell, bottomed out at just 653 fans at a home game on April 17, 1979, so that’s the goal.
In South Korea, age is articulated a little differently: When a baby is born, they’re considered a year old, and then on the following New Year’s Day they gain another year. It’s a unique cultural practice, and one that means that a December baby could be considered two years old within a few weeks. There’s also another way to count legal age where at birth the child is 0 years old and then gains a year on January 1, which is how the country calculates military service obligations, for instance. Adding in the international method of age calculation — you add a year on your birthday — that means Korea has three different ways to tabulate age, which can get a little confusing. The country has elected a new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, who has stated plans to push for the end of the centuries-old practice, and to bring Korea in line with international age-counting standards.
For the past several years, the box office has been dominated by several studios including Universal, which produces the Fast & Furious and Jurassic World franchises, and Warner Bros, which makes the DC Comics and Harry Potter franchises, and Disney, which owns the rights to, I don’t know, everything else. As those studios dominated, others of the once-Big Six like Sony and Paramount took a backseat, saw their marketshare degrade, and started to look more like mini-majors like Lionsgate rather than actual contenders. Well, no longer: Sony and Paramount are responsible for seven of the top 10 films of 2022 so far, and own 46 percent of all domestic box office revenue. Over the same period of 2021, that figure was a paltry 5 percent.
Researchers from Meiji University have rigged a specially-designed pair of chopsticks up to a battery to determine if running a small electrical current through food can increase the perceived amount of salt content. In general people consume a little too much salt, which over time can have negative health consequences. The researchers found that running some current through the food can make it taste up to 50 percent saltier than it actually is, meaning that you get all the taste but less of the sodium. They were able to serve food with 30 percent less salt content that, when electrical stimulation was added, tasted just as salty as the ordinary food.
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