Numlock News: August 17, 2021 • Hot Air Balloons, Houseplants, Hotel Transylvania
By Walt Hickey
Hot air ballooning evidently had a surge of popularity in the 1970s, and the generation that fueled its golden era is getting on in years, so new programs are rolling out to get the next generation of hot-air enthusiasts ready to fly. It’s a pretty solid time to get into the game. A new balloon able to carry a pilot and two or three passengers usually starts at the price point of $40,000 and up, but with so many older balloonists retiring and, presumably, the following generation disappointing their whimsical fathers by dabbling in fixed-wing aircraft or those accursed helicopters, you can score a gently used hot air balloon for $10,000 to $20,000.
When wildfires reduce air quality and make fine particulate matter go up, new research shows that dairy cows can suffer. It leads to a decline in the cows’ production as well as a higher rate of medical maladies. The average dairy cow in the U.S. can produce an average of 65 pounds of milk per day, and cows in areas with significantly diminished air quality saw an average drop of 3 pounds per day. This is a particularly big deal because 40 percent of the nation’s milk comes from farms in the West, which is where wildfires are a serious and accelerating problem.
For the first time, federal officials declared a water shortage at the Lake Mead reservoir, a status that causes a slash to the annual apportionment of water to several states in the Southwest. In the year beginning in October, Arizona will lose 18 percent of its annual water apportionment, Nevada will lose 7 percent, and the apportionments to Mexico will decrease by 5 percent. Right now, 59.2 million Americans live in a place with drought, which encompasses 99 percent of the Western United States. Total water storage in the Colorado River system is at 40 percent capacity, down from 49 percent in 2020.
The houseplant industry is doing as well as a snake plant, which is to say it’s doing absolutely excellent even though you probably don’t really pay attention to it. Sales grew $1.7 billion from 2016 to 2019, a 50 percent increase. Last year, with many Americans spending lots of time in homes that lacked the flora they were accustomed to, 71 percent of North American greenhouses logged an increase in sales. The field is highly trend-driven, and with a few colossal players in the industry always trying to find the next big hit in houseplants, the coolest plant of this year is one season away from being a mass-produced $10 fixture of the Instagram set.
Thanks to a new increase in monthly benefits, the 42 million people who rely on the Supplementary Nutritional Assistance Program will see a considerable bump to their assistance. The average monthly benefit will rise by $36 to $121 per person, a move that proponents say will cut back significantly on food insecurity and help a lot of hungry kids, given that 43 percent of the Americans who use SNAP are children. The maximum amount will now rise to $835 a month for a family of four, an increase of 21 percent.
T-Mobile confirmed that hackers accessed the telecom’s systems on Monday. One hacker claimed that 100 million people had compromised data in the breach, and in a forum post offered 30 million people’s data for 6 bitcoin (about $270,000). Samples of the data contained “social security numbers, phone numbers, names, physical addresses, unique IMEI numbers, and driver license information,” so you know, just super replaceable stuff that will not cause any serious problems for the potentially tens of millions of people affected.
Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is reportedly skipping a theatrical release and will instead be sold by Sony Pictures Animation to Amazon Prime Video for north of $100 million. The franchise has been incredibly successful — $1.3 billion across three films — but as moviegoer confidence dips, school restarts, and the same kids who would normally be the bread and butter for this kind of movie being kept home because they haven’t been vaccinated, Sony is reportedly yanking the film. Sony lacks a streaming service and have been game to play ball with anyone else interested in buying their stuff.
Thanks to the paid subscribers to Numlock News who make this possible. Subscribers guarantee this stays ad-free, and get a special Sunday edition. Consider becoming a full subscriber today.
The best way to reach new readers is word of mouth. If you click THIS LINK in your inbox, it’ll create an easy-to-send pre-written email you can just fire off to some friends.
2021 Sunday subscriber editions:Time Use · Shampoo Bars · Wikipedia · Thriving · Comic Rebound · Return of Travel · Sticky Stuff · For-profit Med School · A Good Day · Press Reset · Perverse Incentives · Demon Slayer · Carbon Credits · Money in Politics ·