Numlock News: August 28, 2023 • Horseshoe Crabs, Cats, Wine
By Walt Hickey
The corporate marijuana world is in a pinch, as some of the most significant players in the space are running out of runway as a lack of federal legalization and an inability to access traditional banking options mean that their debt is becoming a serious concern. Trulieve Cannabis’ bonds due in 2026 are trading for 68.5 cents on the dollar, at Curaleaf — which is the largest retail dispensary in the country — their bonds are trading at 78.5 cents on the dollar, and Ayr Wellness’s 2024 bonds are selling for 78.2 cents on the dollar. States that once selectively doled out licenses to operate are now offering them anywhere, and the lack of federal recognition for their products is constraining an ability to grow.
The Presidential Election Campaign Fund was established so that candidates don’t simply have to rely on donors or corporations to raise money, and if a presidential contender opts in it matches some kinds of fundraising with the provision that the candidate agrees to a spending limit. From the 1976 to 2004 elections, the major parties’ nominees routinely tapped into the public funding, which is subsidized by a checked box on tax returns for taxpayers opting $3 of their money into the fund. The thing is, pretty much since 2012 nobody’s been using it, because candidates can raise way more money from rich donors and corporations. People still keep paying into it — less than 4 percent of taxpayers do, but that’s still a lot of $3 contributions — and as a result it’s now ballooned to a $445.6 million balance that nobody who can use it actually wants, and nobody else can touch.
Gran Turismo in its opening weekend is neck and neck with Barbie in its sixth, with the film based on a video game franchise pulling in $17.3 million in preliminary box office numbers while the film based on a toy franchise made $17.1 million. Given that Sunday was the day that many theaters in North America sold tickets for just $4 a pop, though, those numbers might shift a bit if demand is different from expectations. In third place, Blue Beetle — based on the comic book franchise — made $12.8 million, good for third place, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, based on a cartoon which is based on a comic which is making fun of a different comic, made $6.1 million. Retribution, which seems like it’s based on a different Liam Neeson movie where he saves his own child but is actually based on a 2015 Spanish movie, made $3.3 million. Oppenheimer, which is based on the Y-1561 device model nuclear weapon, made $9 million.
A Tampa Bay Times analysis of 1,100 complaints lodged against books across 62 Florida school districts covering 99 percent of public school students in the state found that two people alone were responsible for 600 of the complaints. The counties of those busybodies made up 3 percent of the state’s total enrollment, but over 700 of the 1,100 complaints. All told, the 1,100 complaints pertained to 680 books by 480 authors. Obviously the best way to operate an educational facility is to make it so that any crank in your county can jam up a library with a form letter just because they don’t particularly care for gay people that much.
The French government is spending €200 million to destroy surplus wine, as the European Union is overproducing wine given changing tastes away from wine in general. Looking at the first half of the year, wine consumption is down 7 percent in Italy, 10 percent in Spain, 15 percent in France, 22 percent in Germany and 34 percent in Portugal. On the other hand, wine production across the EU as a whole is up 4 percent. The plan for the €200 million is to buy up the excess stock, extract the alcohol, and sell it off for commercial and industrial uses like in cleaning products and perfume.
Cats love fish, which on reflection is a bit weird, because cats evolved in the deserts of the Middle East 10,000 years ago and remote, land-locked deserts are not considered to be ideal environments for the survival and availability of fish, according to ichthyologists. Nevertheless, cats are responsible for a ton of fish consumption: More than 6 percent of all wild-caught fish ends up in cat food. The reason for the now-ideal pairing is that cats have weird tastes. Notoriously, they cannot taste sugar, but according to a new study cat taste buds are particularly attuned to enjoy umami flavors, which may very well be the main desirable flavor cats seek out, and one that’s found in fish.
Last week the organization that helps the government set pharmaceutical industry testing standards got the green light to using synthetic alternatives to horseshoe crab blood in biomedical research. The blood of horseshoe crabs is integral to the industry, which uses proteins derived from it to test for bacterial contamination, as their blue blood coagulates in the presence of endotoxins. Since that discovery in the 1970s, crabs have been captured to the tune of an estimated 600,000 per year, they make a blood donation that 70 percent to 95 percent survive, and then they’re put back into the ocean. The issue is that this appears to have made an impact on their ability to not just survive but also breed, as the blood loss and stress mean that the population has remained below historic levels.
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