Numlock News: August 17, 2023 • Margaritaville, Tattoos, The Macarena
By Walt Hickey
Movie nerds are feasting right now, as the 70mm Imax format — considered to be the best way to watch a film — is having its moment with the release of the Christopher Nolan film Oppenheimer, which was filmed specifically for the format. There are only 19 locations in the U.S. equipped to screen the movie, which in the Imax 70mm format is a physical film reel 11 miles long that weighs 600 pounds, and which costs $600 and takes three days to make a single print. Imax hired 50 projectionists specifically for the task and worked with Kodak to design black-and-white Imax film, which had never been necessary before. It’s paid off: The 70mm Imax version alone has grossed $17 million alone in four weeks despite only 19 American theaters actually being able to show the damned thing.
Disaster continues to befall the Times Square Margaritaville Resort, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Saturday following an earlier bankruptcy filing from a linked LLC in July. Monthly revenues at Margaritaville were between $2.7 million and $2.8 million from May to June, and while occupancy is back at 97 percent in July it’s struggling to pay off a mountain of debt, to the extent that the hotel is in talks to get $170 million loaned as a lifeline. That’s a lot of cheeseburgers, in paradise or otherwise, and if they’re unable to secure the money they risk the ire of the Margaritaville brand itself: They owe $1.2 million to Margaritaville Enterprises, making the Jimmy Buffet-founded company the fourth-largest unsecured creditor.
There have been 35 songs that are not performed in English that have made it to the top 10 of the Hot 100, including 19 Spanish-language songs, eight songs in Korean, three in German, two each in French and Italian, and one in Japanese. As tastes in music get increasingly global and streaming opens up overseas artists to the American market without the necessary intermediary of an American label, it’s become easier for non-English songs to pop in the U.S.: 23 of those 35 songs have reached the top 10 since 2012, when “Gangnam Style” hit the charts after a 16-year dry spell for non-English songs that followed the release of “Macarena” in 1996. All of those 23 songs since 2012 have been in either Korean or Spanish, and six of them have hit in 2023.
The humble heat pump, unlike green energy technology like electric vehicles or home solar panels, is the low-carbon tech for any and all incomes. Compared to median-income households, households with incomes above $150,000 were twice as likely to have solar panels on their homes, and were six times as likely to have an electric vehicle, but heat pumps are not only vastly more popular than that tech, they are also used by around 14 percent of households, a figure that holds up and down the income distribution.
Many developing countries are looking to fish meal as an export, but the case of Peru offers a cautionary tale to places that look at the feeder fish in their waters and see dollars. In the 1960s, Peru was responsible for 80 percent of the fish meal fed to farm animals in the Netherlands, a testament to the country’s global export market for cheap fish. The Peruvian anchoveta catch would rise to 12 million tonnes by 1971, but then following a 1972 El Niño, the overfished population crashed, and prices shot up 250 percent, sparking an economic crisis that rippled across the country. Now the same process is being repeated off the coast of West Africa, with international fishing fleets and industrialized protein exports to China and Turkey doing the same thing.
Fully 32 percent of Americans have at least one tattoo, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center and I can only assume commissioned on behalf of the National Society for Convincing Your Parents It’s Cool If You Get A Tattoo Because Everyone Else Has One. In terms of the amount of ink, 11 percent of Americans have one tattoo while 22 percent have more than one. Women were more likely to have a tattoo than men — 38 percent versus 27 percent — and LGBT people were vastly more likely to have one (51 percent) than straight people (31 percent). Among those who had ink, 69 percent said that remembering or honoring someone or something is a reason they have a tattoo, 32 percent said it was to improve their appearance, and 47 percent said they were making a statement about what they believe. All told, 24 percent said they regretted getting at least one of their tattoos.
The Merry-Go-Round of (a Brief) Life
Researchers at the University of Konstanz have published the results of a study arguing that in an experiment, some fruit flies sought out a spinning platform voluntarily and repeatedly, a result which would suggest that they found the sensation appealing. In the preprint, the authors, now at the University, said that some of the flies reliably spent 5 percent or more of their time on the turning wheel, and when they installed two such wheels some of the flies would specifically hang out on whatever carousel was spinning, not unlike a guy in a reality dating show who relentlessly pursues the zip line. Fruit flies are known to be bright enough to avoid thing they don’t like, so the evidence that at least some of them continued to actively seek out the thrills of centrifugal force may indicate flies can do something that at least superficially resembles playing.
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