Numlock News: August 30, 2021 • Earthworms, Haunted Houses, Collection
By Walt Hickey
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The Nia DaCosta film Candyman made $22.37 million domestically last weekend, winning the weekend and crushing expectations. The horror genre has been seriously durable through the cinema recovery, with the film joining A Quiet Place Part II and the latest Conjuring movie as spooktaculars that got butts in seats when other films haven’t been able to achieve much box office stickiness.
Patron of the Arts
A judge has ordered a couple to pay their son $30,441.54 in restitution after he sued his parents for throwing away his enormous collection of pornography. They must also pay his attorney $14,519.82. David Werking lived with his parents for 10 months following a divorce, and in a subsequent email, his father revealed they had done him “a big favor” and dumped the stash. I would love to commend the judge for going with such an oddly specific amount — it’d be a real miscarriage of justice if that fifty-four cents worth of erotica was not adequately compensated for — which was developed in part because an expert in pornography valuation was furnished by the defense.
In at least nine states, there is a law that requires home sellers to disclose if there was a recent death on the property, and the great state of New York goes so far as to have it be illegal in some circumstances to sell a building that is haunted. That’s the result of a 1991 New York supreme court ruling where a buyer sued over a house that was not marketed as haunted, but the previous owners had talked a bunch to the press about how haunted their house was, and the buyer won because it could negatively affect the value. Given that 40 percent of Americans reported they believe in ghosts as of the latest polling on the matter, and a property can lose 10 to 25 percent of its value if a murder took place there, the damages are hardly spectral.
Lumbricus terrestris, or the common earthworm, isn’t native to North America, having been wiped out during the last Ice Age, but returned to North American soils from Europe. In Canada, there are now over 30 non-native earthworms, and the voracious creatures actually pose a slow-moving threat to the boreal forest ecosystem. Invasive earthworms cause a 50 percent decrease in native soil invertebrate abundance, and reduce the boreal forest’s ability to lock-in carbon. Only about 10 percent of Canada’s boreal forest has earthworms, but by 2050 the worms will be in most of it. A scientific model studying the forests found that when earthworms are present, the forest floor’s carbon stores decrease 50 to 94 percent after 125 years. While destructive worms that fundamentally alter the climate are easily fixable with a simple Kwisatz Haderach, unfortunately for them, Canada already cashed theirs in to get Gretzky.
Approximately 550 square miles of West Virginia have been strip mined, and with demand for coal sinking in the United States, what to do with that landscape is now a pretty open question. So far, only 2 percent of it has been redeveloped, but an infrastructure bill now in Congress will throw $11.3 billion towards reclamation of abandoned mine lands, and a pretty considerable chunk of that will likely end up in West Virginia. Some existing repurposes for the land are lavender farms, solar fields and tilapia farms.
The number of people who identified as more than one race on the latest census jumped by 276 percent compared to the census of ten years ago, a huge increase that has demographers scratching their heads. There are a few theories on this. First, the straightforward: more and more kids are born to parents from different racial groups, which would be reflected on the census. But one theory that’s still being investigated is that people’s conceptions of their own race may have changed over the past 10 years given that was the period that DNA ancestry tests became cheap and mainstream, with some 16 percent of Americans taking one as of 2019.
Farmers applied 891,400 pounds of Imidacloprid in the United States from 2014 to 2018, according to the EPA, and a new report indicates that it and two other similar neonicotinoid pesticides may be more dangerous for wildlife and biodiversity than previously understood. Imidacloprid is likely to adversely impact 83 percent of critical habitats and have adverse effects on 1,444 endangered species, 79 percent of the species considered in the review. A key worry is the pollinators who have experienced a significant decline over the past decade, a decline that could be linked to pesticide use.
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