Numlock News: April 23, 2019 • Stolen Grease, Water, Dead Wood
By Walt Hickey
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There’s a fortune to be made in oil, as long as it’s used and belongs to Burger King and you are stealing it to sell on the black market, as happened to a Richmond, Virginia man in early April. Used cooking grease is recycled and sold to bio-fuel facilities — as everyone who’s worked in a restaurant will attest cleaning the grease trap is one of the worst tasks — and the used oil is sold for about $2 per gallon. Thieves have discovered that most restaurants have a container of — well, if not “black gold” then “brown bronze” — parked behind the kitchen, and this has actually become a pretty serious problem, with oil recyclers citing hundreds of grease thefts over the past several years. As we all learned in the documentary Ocean’s Eleven every good heist needs a grease man, but this is not what they meant. The Virginian who attempted to rob that Burger King’s grease dumpster with a 1,600-gallon truck was only getting 25 cents per gallon on the black market, because crime doesn’t pay.
An analysis of dietary data from 8,400 children aged two to 19 found that drinking water is good for you. More specifically, one out of every five kids just didn’t drink water the day prior to the survey, and those who skipped out on water ended up typically replacing it with sugary beverages. This meant that kids who didn’t drink water consumed on average an extra 93 calories per day, and 4.5 percent more calories from sodas, sports drinks and juice. A surplus 70 calories per day can put kids at risk for obesity.
With a favorable job market for employees and an endless need for staff in the kitchen, services that can match kitchen staff to understaffed restaurants at a moment’s notice are increasingly necessary. The number of restaurants in cities is on the rise: there were 9,809 full-service restaurants in New York in late 2018, up from 8,563 in the same quarter of 2016. According to stats from a scheduling app, the average tenure of a restaurant employee is 1 month and 26 days, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculating the restaurant sector sees 73 percent turnover, meaning a restaurant can expect to lose the equivalent of its entire staff every 16 months.
The share of 16-year-olds who get their drivers license is down 20.2 percentage points between 1983 and 2017, dropping from 46 percent in the ‘80s to 26 percent in 2017. Eventually kids realized that if they want to get into bars they will inexplicably need to certify with the state that they can drive, but still only 80 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds in 2017 were licensed drivers, down from 92 percent in 1983. Part of it is that cars are expensive, gas is expensive, even driver’s ed costs a few hundred dollars these days.
Summit Learning is funded by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan and was aided in early development by Facebook engineers to teach kids through self-directed learning on laptops. This bold new future for education paints a glorious vision for tomorrow, except for the fact that every single person involved in the process seems to detest it. According to some instances compiled by the Times, some students getting headaches and hand cramps from being on mediocre laptops all day and it kills collaboration, teachers aren’t actually teaching, and the polling on it is absolutely miserable: In Kansas 77 percent of respondents to a McPherson middle school survey wanted their child out of classrooms that used Summit, 80 percent said their kids didn’t like it. It’s in 380 schools used by 74,000 students, and the track record is really something: Brooklyn students walked out so they wouldn’t have to use it, 70 percent of students in Indiana, Pennsylvania wanted the district to drop it, protests broke out in Chesire, Connecticut. Classrooms, consider yourselves disrupted.
Corrections and amplifications, April 26, 2019: The entry on Summit was updated to remove information the New York Times had since corrected involving a student’s medical symptoms and to amplify the reporting of the Times.
Disaster Breeds Disaster
Florida — a state know for its beautiful natural environments, wonderful weather and easily obtainable bath salts — is in a bit of a pickle here, with the hurricane damage stemming from Hurricane Michael last October on the panhandle actually causing some significant long-term environmental peril. About 350,000 acres of Florida forest were destroyed completely, leaving 100 tons of dead wood per acre. This wood has had the opportunity to dry out and get nice and flammable just in time for the dry season. It’s an amount of fallen leaves and limbs that’s 10 times as high as a normal year, and another 4.6 million acres sustained partial damage. This has the state on notice for the kind of fires more commonly seen in the Western U.S. Controlled burns to clean up the damage could take years. The federal government hasn’t provided additional money for a cleanup.
A new report estimates that online video streaming services will bring in $22 billion in 2019, up from $16.3 billion in 2018. On the same token, pay TV will see an estimated 5 percent drop in subscribers in 2019, compared to 4 percent in 2018. Last year, an estimated 4.01 million subscribers dropped traditional pay television, a figure projected to rise to 4.56 million this year.
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