Numlock News: August 4, 2022 • Prince, Pollen, Pixar
By Walt Hickey
The six-year-long litigation over the fate of the Prince estate finally came to a conclusion on Monday, when a judge signed off on the deal that will divide $156 million in assets. The musician died in 2016 without a will, and his six half-siblings were named his legal heirs. Half of his siblings cashed out and sold all or most of their stakes in the estate to Primary Wave, a music publishing company, so now that the case is closed that firm will walk away with around half of the Prince estate and the three other siblings will split the other half. The case was marked by years of legal mess and frustration with the probate court system on the part of the heirs.
A new study tracked how two pods of dolphins interacted in the Atlantic Ocean, finding that rather than the anticipated fights that typically ensue after two competing communities of mammals begin to overlap, the dolphins actually seemed to get on well, communicating and hooking up. A pod of 46 Atlantic spotted dolphins linking up with a pod of 120 dolphins was tracked over five years with over 300 surveys, and the findings show that dolphins behaviorally resemble bonobos — which also tend to have collegial group mixers — rather than the more territorial groups of carnivorous mammals and even other dolphins. The researchers have reason to believe that many of the dolphins formed inter-pod relationships, but are waiting to get some genetic proof together to confirm that.
This spring, lots and lots of celebrities got into the game of shilling crypto. Let’s check in on how things have gone. Bitcoin’s price is down 60 percent since ads featuring Matt Damon plugging a crypto exchange started airing in late October; if you followed Tom Brady’s partnership with a crypto exchange in June, the price of Bitcoin dropped 35 percent; Mike Tyson’s NFT collection is down 95 percent since its launch last August; Reese Witherspoon’s collaboration with the World of Women NFT collective has seen prices drop 75 percent since announcing the partnership; and former Boston Celtic Paul Pierce’s plug for the EthereumMax token happened just before it lost 98 percent of its value. Needless to say, celebrity endorsements are obviously important investment advice, as they’re a blaring signal that a market has topped the hell out.
Researchers have long estimated that pollination — where a plant uses an animal to carry its reproductive cells around to other plants to foster genetic diversity and reproduce — originated in terrestrial plants 140 million years ago. A new study dates the origin of pollination on earth further back, though. The study looked at how small crustaceans fertilize G. gracilis, a species of red seaweed. The thing is, the seaweed evolved 1 billion years ago, and if its reproduction is mediated by an animal now, that would mean that pollination under the sea evolved independently way earlier than it did on land, about 650 million years ago.
The Rhine River is a critical route for commerce in Europe, connecting Switzerland to the North Sea by way of Germany, and the river is potentially getting too low to traverse at an important waypoint for commodity shipping. At Kaub, Germany, the river depth is now 60 centimeters, but is forecasted to drop to 47 centimeters by the weekend. At 40 centimeters, the river is pretty much impassable to traffic. Already coal shipments have slimmed down, which is causing problem for a continent in the midst of an energy crunch.
Lightyear was a flop in cinemas, making $219.8 million worldwide, a tiny fraction of the $1.1 billion that Toy Story 3 and Toy Story 4 made. It’s Pixar’s second-lowest grossing theatrical release ever, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for the Disney division. Lightyear is about to make its debut on Disney+, and if you’re a person who wants to see Pixar movies get released in theaters you’re ironically hoping it’s a bit of a bomb there too. Previous Pixar movies sent directly to Disney+ were colossal hits. Luca was the most-streamed movie of 2021, period, according to Nielsen, with 1.57 billion minutes streamed in its first week and 10.6 billion minutes viewed overall. Soul and Turning Red were also big hits on Disney+, each racking up 1.7 billion minutes in its first week. So if Lightyear pops on Disney+, onlookers fear Disney brass might make the trailblazing, innovative Pixar studio into just the direct-to-video arm of the Mouse.
During the pandemic era, Congress gave schools waivers that allowed free school lunch for every student. The universal waivers had a massive positive effect: An analysis of 62 school districts found that 95 percent of districts said the waivers reduced hunger among students and 89 percent said it made things easier on parents. School meals cost up to $3 for lunch and $2 for breakfast, and the effect of subsidizing that for kids is massive. The National School Lunch Program fed 22.6 million kids every day in fiscal year 2020, and meals are linked to better academic achievement, behavior and health. Naturally, some in Congress want to scale back the program.
You should check out my interview with John Jackson Miller, who wrote “Comics and graphic novel sales grew over 60% in 2021” for Comichron. John is absolutely one of my favorite people to talk to every year — definitely check out our previous conversations. We spoke about the unprecedented pop in sales and why it’s coming from unexpected areas, how the business reshuffling in the pandemic has fundamentally changed the level of disclosure we have about the comic industry, and what’s driving the changes. John can be found at Comichron, on Twitter and he’s the author of a new book coming out this winter, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds — The High Country.
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Correction: an earlier version misstated the Lightyear box office
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