Numlock News: August 23, 2022 • Eruption, Transformers, Psychedelics
By Walt Hickey
In 2020, California banned the sale of flavored cigarettes, electronic cigarettes and vapes, including menthol. The law never went into effect, as days after passage large tobacco interests launched a referendum drive that is culminating in Proposition 31, which if “yes” wins will uphold the law while a “no” win will overturn it. Needless to say, Big Tobacco is flexing its financial muscle: The industry has spent $22 million to overturn the ban, while supporters of the ban have spent just $5.7 million.
Broadway theaters have sustained some of the most lasting damage from the pandemic, even as theatrical box office has mounted a modest recovery in 2022. Over the course of the 2021–22 season, 6.7 million people watched 6,860 Broadway performances for a gross of $845 million. That’s well under half the business done in the 2018–19 season, when 14.8 million people watched 13,590 performances for a gross of $1.8 billion. The issue is that the very constituencies who typically provide the bedrock of Broadway crowds — tourists, groups and older audiences — have yet to return on the same scale they had before. That said, it’s not just Broadway; orchestras, regional performing arts associations, operas are all struggling to get butts back in seats.
Consumption of honey in the United States hit 618 million pounds in 2021, which was up 8 percent year over year and the highest on record, beating out the 596 million pounds of honey consumed in 2017. On a per-capita basis, that’s 1.75 pounds of honey per person, up from an average of 1.25 pounds of honey per capita in 2010. Honey’s popular in no small part because manufacturers find that consumers like eating sweet things but don’t like the concept of “added sugars” as much as they like the concept of “now with added honey!” in a classic illustration of the textbook economic principle of Pooh’s Gambit.
Hope You Took Advantage Of The Brief Window
Employers that trumpeted their spiffy new pandemic-era expansions of paid maternity leave and paternity leave have discreetly begun killing those worker benefits. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, only 35 percent of employers offer paid maternity leave beyond what’s legally required, down from a level of 53 percent in 2020. Furthermore, the percentage of employers offering paid paternity leave has fallen from 44 percent in 2020 to just 27 percent in 2022.
Fewer Than Meet The Eye
America is about to enter storm season, with the inevitable cyclone bound for the East Coast lurking somewhere off the coast of Africa as a mild breeze right about now. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of a logjam for utilities trying to get their hands on power transformers, which are the large sophisticated pieces of electrical equipment that can sustain damage during high winds and knock out power for large areas. In 2018, the average wait for a transformer was around three months, and today that’s closer to 18 months. When Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana and Mississippi, it damaged or destroyed 5,900 transformers. Right now foreign suppliers are critical to the transformers, as 82 percent of large transformers were imported as of 2019, so logistical problems at ports have presented issues.
The number of publicly-traded companies that are working on bringing pharmaceuticals derived from psychedelic mushrooms and other drugs is now past 50. As other historically illegal drugs like MDMA are getting clinical trials as to their efficacy in treating PTSD, analysts think psychedelics may very well become a sizable market within the colossal industry of psychological treatments. One estimate puts the global market for pharmaceutical psychedelics at $6.9 billion by 2027.
The volcanic explosion off the coast of Tonga this past January that triggered a tsunami has been measured to be one of the most significant releases of energy in the past century. The eruption comes in at roughly the equivalent of 61 megatons of TNT, the energy release on par with a magnitude 8.4 earthquake, according to an analysis of worldwide weather station data that logged evidence of the explosion. By comparison, the largest nuclear weapon ever detonated, the Soviet Tsar Bomba, was the energy equivalent of 50 to 58 megatons of TNT.
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