Numlock News: April 29, 2021 • Pro Wrestling, Churn, Mosquito Killer
By Walt Hickey
Lee Kun-hee, the patriarch of the family that controls the Samsung Group of 59 companies, died last October, and his family has in the interim been trying to figure out exactly how much is owed in inheritance taxes on the largest fortune in the country, worth $21 billion. That includes a 4.18 percent stake in Samsung Electronics, 20.76 percent of Samsung Life Insurance and 2.88 percent of Samsung’s construction unit, plus a 3 trillion won art collection and a collection of property. This week, the heirs laid out a plan to pay the 12 trillion won ($10.8 billion) that they owe to the government over the next five years on the estate.
California is facing down a drought, but urban Southern California has actually planned well ahead for this. Right now, it has 3.2 million acre-feet of water in reserve, more than a year’s worth of water, a quite literal rainy day fund initiated amid the region’s water troubles over the past several years. Over the past 20 years, the region has invested $1 billion into water storage including a trillion-liter reservoir and a 44-mile pipeline that doubled capacity for water delivery. While Los Angeles’ population rose from 3.7 million in 2000 to 4 million today, the per capita daily water use fell from 159 gallons in 2000 to 106 gallons per day in 2020.
The most popular sport on YouTube is… professional wrestling. In March 2021, the WWE’s YouTube channel logged 4.3 billion minutes watched, orders of magnitude higher than the nearest runner-up, the NBA, which had 853.8 million minutes watched in the same month, and well over the 711.1 million of the UFC, 502.9 million of ESPN, 276.8 million of the NFL, and the 53.8 million of the MLB. A lot of that is that professional wrestling is really the only one of those sports that sees genuine global interest, and, listen, you can pretty much guarantee a solid clip when you pre-plan the ending.
A new study from researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography mapped over 56 square miles off the coast of Los Angeles and found 27,345 objects that distinctly look like barrels of toxic waste. The barrels were discovered in an area understood to contain high levels of DDT where a large toxic waste dumping site was believed to be contained. The site was in use from the end of World War II through 1972 when congress stepped in and passed the Ocean Dumping Act, which needless to say frowns on such actions. An estimated 350 to 700 tons of DDT, the banned insecticide, were dumped at the site.
Streaming services have been nervously eyeing the churn rate of subscribers, and a new survey from Deloitte found that 36 percent of respondents had either “canceled” or “added and cancelled” a subscription to a paid streaming service in February. Not all services have the same problem. For Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu, the 2020 fourth quarter churn rates (2.5 percent, 4.3 percent, and 5.2 percent respectively) were rather low. Streaming services linked to premium cable were a notch higher, such as Starz (8.4 percent), Showtime (8.8 percent) and HBO Max (6.7 percent). NBC’s new streaming service, Peacock, was a bit of a revolving door, with a 9.5 percent churn rate, but the most imperiled of all was Apple TV+, which had a 15.6 percent rate of subscriber churn. Still, I’m convinced the plucky folks at Apple will find a way to keep the lights on.
A new report has Apple slashing its planned production of AirPods by 25 percent to 20 percent this year, cutting down its intended production from a forecast of 110 million units down to somewhere between 75 million and 85 million. This is a classic problem of sustainability: the overpopulation of AirPods is mostly attributed to a lack of predators, thanks largely to the typical sources of population control of the herbivorous AirPods — gravity, falling out in the subway, getting lost in a bag somewhere, getting forgotten in a cab — being eliminated amid reduced travel, commuting and drunken carousing. Yes, only through preserving an ecosystem for the things that hunt AirPods, like couch cushions in coffee shops, the backseats of Ubers and careless people sitting down on things in bars, only through that habitat restoration can we bring balance back to this now vulnerable species.
The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District and a company named Oxitec announced they will release 12,000 invasive Aedes aegypti mosquitoes each week for 12 weeks from six different locations on the Keys. The plan, which sounds like a Bond villain scheme while authorities insist it is definitely not, is a complicated biological counteroffensive against a bug responsible for spreading dengue, Zika and yellow fever. The mosquitos being released have been specially treated and are all male. When the genetically modified bugs mate with the wild local female mosquitoes, all the subsequent female offspring will be unable to reproduce, controlling the population of the worst pest on the planet. The Aedes aegypti in the Keys make up about 4 percent of the mosquito population, but are responsible for effectively all mosquito-borne disease.
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