Numlock News: April 21, 2023 • South Park, Oakland, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter
By Walt Hickey
RIP But I'm Different
A new survey found that Americans think that AI is certainly going to have a major impact on workers, sure, but no of course it’s obviously not going to affect me, what are you talking about? According to Pew, 62 percent of respondents said AI would have a major impact on workers generally over the next 20 years, while just 28 percent said that it would have a major impact on them personally. Further, just 22 percent said AI in the workplace would have minor or no impacts on workers generally, while 54 percent said the impacts on themselves would be minor or absent. After all, the cost of technological progress is when your neighbor loses his job to a robot, but the time for violent rebellion against the android menace is when you lose yours.
It’s Definitely Not
A 10-year running class-action suit in California regarding the labeling of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray has finally come to a close, with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that claiming it has zero calories in a given spray is not misleading. The plaintiffs argued that an entire bottle of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray in fact has 771 calories and 82 grams of fat, so, what gives? Where did they go, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray? The ruling of the court backs the company, saying it would take 40 sprays — 0.2 grams each — to get a single tablespoon of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Spray, which nobody realistically does. One judge dissented, saying that it is “ludicrous” that a bottle full of oily fat could be sold as something with zero calories and zero grams of fat owing to a mere nozzle.
In a unanimous 9-0 jury verdict, developers of a $1 billion transmission project that will connect 1,200 megawatts of Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid can proceed despite a Maine referendum that attempted to block the green energy project. The 145-mile power transmission line would provide hydroelectric electricity to roughly 1 million homes across the Northeast. A state judge is expected to issue a judgement that the referendum can’t be applied to the project, though that decision may be appealed to the state Supreme Judicial Court.
U.S. visitor visa wait times in India have gotten seriously out of hand, with the wait time hitting 669 days as of mid-March. This off-the-charts visa issuing problem recently attracted the attention of the State Department, which is trying to get that down a reasonable amount by bringing processing staff in on weekends and allowing other embassies to serve Indian nationals. It’s a big issue: At the embassy in Mumbai, as of January wait times were 999 days for an interview. As of early April, the effort is working, and the visitor visa wait time is down to 337 days, which to be clear is still roughly 11 months but is nevertheless a considerable improvement.
The Oakland A’s, a penny-pinching real estate play that made an annual half-hearted attempt at fielding a professional baseball team, announced in the dead of night their plans to betray a city all too used to getting screwed out of a good product by ownership and buzz off to Las Vegas. Ownership has reached a deal to buy 49 acres in Vegas to build a $1.5 billion ballpark, a third of which they hope will come from the city of Las Vegas itself. While Vegas does not exactly possess a reputation as a town where rich out-of-town chumps with fantasies of taking the House for all its worth ever pull it off, one has to admire them for trying. One mainly has to admire them for trying because in the bold history of the A’s it’s essentially the one thing ownership never really bothered to do, given the pathetic estimated payroll of $56.8 million and ownership so uncommitted to actually investing in the on-field product that their very cheapness created the sabermetric science of Moneyball. The A’s are 3-16.
The television show South Park is at the center of a sprawling lawsuit between two massive studios, WarnerMedia Direct LLC v Paramount Global, over the streaming rights to the cartoon. In October 2019, HBO Max announced they had the exclusive streaming rights to all 23 seasons of South Park and three seasons to come, a deal which covered June 2020 to June 2025, to the tune of $1.7 million per episode for each of 333 episodes. Then, in August 2021, Paramount signed a $900 million deal with creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for a series of specials to air on Paramount+, as well as two “events” that aired that HBO alleges violates the contract it signed. Warner currently owes $52 million and will owe $225 million over the course of the deal, sums that Paramount now alleges they’re trying to avoid paying.
Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan, is an opioid overdose reversal drug that a month ago was finally approved for over-the-counter sale, a move that advocates hope will increase access to the treatment and curb deaths from opioids. Emergent Biosolutions announced that it plans to sell the medication at under $50 for two doses, which is less than the current list price of $130 per two-dose box. That said, that may not even be low enough, as a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 6 in 10 uninsured adults with opioid use disorder have low incomes.
This week in the Sunday edition, I spoke to Nicola Jones, who wrote “Banking on the Seaweed Rush” for the excellent Hakai Magazine. Most readers have probably intuited by now that Hakai is one of my favorite magazines, and it’s stories like this that are why. Jones talks all about the exponential rise of seaweed aquaculture, evenhandedly talking about why there’s so much promise in this area as well as writing in depth on why there are concerns. Jones can be found at her website and blog
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