By Walt Hickey
DC League of Super-Pets, an animated feature featuring the vocal contributions of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, won the weekend at the box office with $23 million. The film made another $18.4 million globally, but that’s not great, because this thing cost $90 million to make and spotlighted some of the deeper bench of super-heroic characters of Superman’s dog Krypto and Batman’s dog Ace the Bat-Hound, which have generally been overlooked on the big screen. One good thing going for it is that we’re in the dead zone of summer, and the next kids movie that’s coming to big screens is Lyle Lyle Crocodile, so for the first and last time it’s the official position of this newsletter that “you should consider getting you and your whole family into Krypto.”
A new House investigation found that four large corporate landlords — Ventron, the Siegel Group, Invitation Homes and Pretium Partners — continued to evict people between March 15, 2020, and July 29, 2021, despite a federal moratorium order on evictions. According to data from the firms, the four companies were responsible for 14,744 eviction filings, and two of the companies didn’t maintain complete records on evictions so the actual number is likely higher. Emails revealed over the course of the investigation that some property managers were directed to harass tenants by knocking on the door late at night, calling child protective services, replacing air conditioners with non-working units and having cars towed.
The movie slate this summer is looking pretty barren through November, with no obvious contenders for a huge box office until Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This year has straight-up seen fewer movies than normal: By this point in 2019, there were 63 national releases in North America, but this year there have only been 39 releases to date. Ticket sales are 30 percent lower than the pre-pandemic level, meaning that the box office is making a recovery following the shock of the pandemic, but if the demand is returning the supply is actually still rather low. The reasons? The production pipeline for films is still a bit fouled up, and streaming services are poaching pictures that otherwise could have seen a national theatrical release.
Right now, New York City is grappling with the perception that crime is way up and the streets are unsafe, a perception fueled in no small part by a mayor that had been hyping up crime. Following the inauguration of Mayor Adams, there have been an average of 800 stories per month across digital and print media about crime in New York, up from 132 stories per month under previous Mayor de Blasio. Right now, three in four New Yorkers surveyed said crime is a very serious problem, up from 35 percent in 1999 when the murder rate was 50 percent higher. The reality? Crime in the city hasn’t really budged all that much, assaults are way down, and New York is one of the safest cities in the country. In 2021 there were 5.7 homicides per 100,000 people, vastly less than the 35 per 100,000 in Philadelphia or 55 per 100,000 in New Orleans, and a quarter of those homicides are concentrated in five police precincts out of the 77 in New York.
Fola Akinnibi and Raeedah Wahid, Bloomberg
An analysis of Airbnb listings in the Midwest found the concepts and words most likely to be linked with the culture of the Midwest, excluding brand names (like Hy-Vee) and locations (Iowa, looking at you). They then calculated the percentage of Airbnb listings containing the words that were from a state within the Midwest, to determine the concepts that were most strongly linked with that nebulous region. Leading the list was the “walleye,” a fish, of which 86 percent of mentions appeared in Midwestern states, followed by “heartland” (67 percent in Midwestern states) and then other Prairie Home Companion staple concepts such as “Lutheran,” “Supper” and “Snowmobile.”
Andrew Van Dam, The Washington Post
New research studied 1,786 ancient skeletons from around Europe to find out when Europeans developed lactose tolerance, the ability to consume dairy without issue. The oldest mutation they found was back to 6,600 years ago, and it was still a rare ability until 4,000 years ago. This is particularly interesting, because we did know that cows were brought as far as England and Ireland 6,000 years ago. So if you’re doing the math, this means that pretty much for like 2,600 years the entire population of the landmass was basically just powering through it, a continental tummyache that lasted literally for millennia. I have been assured by multiple people that if I were to describe these as “more like The Fart Ages am I right??” in print that it would be unbecoming of the newsletter, so I will not.
Carl Zimmer, The New York Times
The ocean is stratified into different layers, and it’s important for the algae that live there that this stratification isn’t messed with too much. Plankton and nutrients get brought up from the sea floor to the surface, they consume and block light, while the plankton down below the thermocline get less light and so their growth is checked and they don’t eat every nutrient in sight. According to new research, though, offshore wind facilities may increase mixing, and it’s still a little uncertain what the impact is; the wake of the wind turbines increases mixing by 7 to 10 percent, but it’s not entirely clear if this is a good thing, a bad thing or one of those nuanced things where the goodness or badness is dependent on an ecosystem already in flux over warming oceans anyway. Climate change: It’s gonna get weird.
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The Fart Ages? That’s when Maalox Man walked the earth, right? Documented in the Lascaux caves with pictographs of fire emitting from hairy ancient bottoms. Maybe they ate the cows rather than tapping their milk supplies?