Numlock News: August 2, 2021 • Bacon, Bones, Jungle Cruise
By Walt Hickey
The Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt movie Jungle Cruise made $34.2 million domestically this past weekend and $27.6 million overseas, with another $30 million in Disney+ revenue on top of that. The $91.8 million is a solid opening for what the Mouse hopes to be a new Pirates of the Carribean-style franchise and not a The Haunted Mansion-style, Country Bears-style, Tomorrowland-style one-shot. Domestically it exceeded expectations, which had been in the ballpark of $25 million to $30 million. Overall box office is still down 50 percent compared to the same week of 2019, so things remain muted. In other films where mankind attempts to subvert a nature which strives to kill them, The Green Knight made $6.78 million, also a beat.
In what is easily the single raddest sentence to emerge from the field of archaeology in decades, scientists have found a lava tube in Saudi Arabia full of hundreds of thousands of bones brought there by hyenas over the course of seven millennia. Hyenas thrived in the area for most of the Holocene, and a new paper looked at the mile-long dried lava tube to describe bones from at least 40 different species of mammal, including humans, dating from 7,000 years ago up to the Victorian era. At press time, “A Hundred Thousand Bones (in a Hyena Lava Tube)” is not yet a song available on Spotify, but the goth bands of the world are just hearing this news and presumably are sprinting, or at least sauntering quickly, to the studio as we speak.
In 1859, Pennsylvania became the site of the first successful commercial oil well in the United States. What followed was an oil boom that lasted decades, but one where nobody was actually keeping track of where people dug wells, so the technology to seal defunct or abandoned wells was still decades off. As a result, Pennsylvania is estimated to contain 100,000 to 560,000 unplugged abandoned oil wells around the state, an environmental and safety disaster. To date, Pennsylvania has located 8,700 orphaned wells. Across the country, there are an estimated 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells.
Last week a federal opioid trial reached closing arguments, and a U.S. District Judge will have to decide if it was “reasonable” for three companies to ship 81 million opioid pills to the city of Huntington, West Virginia from 2006 to 2014, a staggering load of drugs for a community of merely 91,000 people. The city and county are asking for $2.5 billion, which would help to ease a crisis that affected 1 in 10 people with dependence on opioids. The distributors — AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson — blame doctors and the DEA for permitting the volume of pills.
The Olympics have seen their linear television ratings decrease, but it’s not precisely apples-to-apples anyway given the ascent of streaming services and the time zone differences compared to the 2016 Rio games. The primetime audience for the games is down 42 percent compared to that of the 2016 games, with the Summer Olympics averaging 17.5 million primetime viewers through the first seven nights, down from about 30 million primetime viewers during the Rio games. Still, a receding tide lowers all ships: in the 2015-16 television season, the average primetime network show averaged 7.18 million viewers. In the 2020-21 season, the average audience was 4.4 million viewers, which is a 39 percent decline, on par with the Olympics slip.
The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania announced that 52 percent of its fall cohort will be women, the first of the top seven MBA programs to admit more women than men. In 2005, women were less than 30 percent of the students enrolled in 50 full-time MBA programs tracked by the Forté Foundation, a figure that by 2020 had grown slightly to 39 percent. Business school remains one of the last remaining areas in higher ed where women are a distinct minority. Women earned a majority of bachelor’s degrees as early as the 1980s, and already make up a majority of law and med school students.
Californians consume about 255 million pounds of pork per month, but its farms produce only 45 million pounds. A proposition approved by voters in 2018 will begin being enforced next year, requiring more space for pigs, chickens and veal calves. While egg and veal producers are confident they can meet the new standards, only 4 percent of hog operators can today. There’s now a distinct risk that California will lose nearly all of its pork supply, unless courts intervene or the state allows a ramp-up period. California consumes about 15 percent of the pork produces in the U.S., and with six months to go there’s little time left to roll out the expansions necessary to make this happen seamlessly.
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