Numlock News: August 5, 2022 • Consoles, Days of Our Lives, Sharks
By Walt Hickey
Exciting news. Next week, I’m going on my first unplugged vacation of the Numlock era. Filling in for me will be five of my favorite writer, data journalist and author friends; they’re all brilliant and you’re going to love them. Have a great weekend and a great week!
Sony, which makes the vaunted PlayStation line of consoles, is now looking to expand development into games played not on its console but on mobile devices and personal computers, the latter of which having long been the domain of archrival Microsoft. The global gaming market was $214.2 billion last year, and sales are projected to rise $20 billion a year every year through 2026. The issue for PlayStation-heavy Sony is that last year console games were just 13 percent of the market, and even an incredibly successful console that moved 100 million units is still only going to reach under 5 percent of the global market of gamers.
About five times a year on average, electrical discharges known as gigantic jets are observed in the atmosphere, essentially lightning that shoots up from the tops of clouds to the edge of space. A new study analyzed one such jet spotted in Oklahoma in 2018 that shot 50 miles above a cloud and had the charge of 100 normal lightning bolts. The 3D modeling — using multiple satellite observations — found the cloud was yeeting electricity into the ionosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere 50 to 400 miles above the surface.
Even Dr. Drake Ramoray Couldn’t Save It
Days of Our Lives, the NBC soap opera, is packing up and heading to the streaming service Peacock. This ends both the 57 years that Days of Our Lives has aired on broadcast television as well as NBC’s involvement in the soap opera genre it practically invented 73 years ago with These Are My Children. Soap operas in general have been on the decline from the heyday from the 1960s to the 1990s, with the number of soaps peaking at 19 soap operas concurrently running in 1970. With Days of Our Lives exiting broadcast, only three soaps remain: General Hospital, The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful.
The United States exported 3.2 million kilograms of shark meat in 2020, seafood that was worth around $11 million. It’s the fourth largest exporter of shark meat in the world, but a key point is that since 2000 it’s illegal to cut off shark fins and toss the body back into the ocean, a vicious process that gets a desired part of the animal for sale overseas. Legislation in Congress would nearly totally ban shark fin sales at all as they fuel a market for poaching. This has prompted the feds to investigate some companies that export shark, finding that the trade is still happening in the U.S. A federal complaint last month accused a Florida Keys exporter of labeling 5,666 pounds of shark fins bound for China as live spiny lobsters, and other companies are under investigation over similar trade.
The game Stray, where you play as an adorable orange cat who has to save a cyberpunk robotic city by being a good cat, has been the No. 1 purchased game for the past two weeks on Steam according to SteamDB. It’s also seeing lots of streams on sites like Twitch and YouTube, and many of those streams are actually raising real money for cat shelters and adoption agencies. The makers gave several copies of the game to the Nebraska Humane Society to raffle off, which raised $7,000 in a week for the shelter.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has for the first time indicated that it’s possible the country’s three nuclear plants will continue to run. Scholz’s government is a coalition with the German Green Party, a longtime anti-nuclear party that has pushed for the closure of the remaining German nuclear plants. The timing could not be worse, with the country facing an energy shortage given the Russia situation, and the three reactors provide 6 percent of German electricity. About 70 percent of the country is in favor of extending the life of the reactors.
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is fighting with a company that installed a synthetic turf field, arguing that it breached its contract to provide athletic turf that was free of PFAS and PFOS chemicals, which are hazardous to human health. Tests by the City Council found PFOS in amounts of 135 parts per trillion in the artificial turf upon installation, well above the EPA health advisory that the maximum safe level in drinking water was 20 parts per quadrillion. The turf company counters that they didn’t agree to submitting the turf to those tests, but rather some other specific tests, and so they’re not in breach. If only there was some sort of available nontoxic plant life that you could use instead of artificial turf on fields, wouldn’t that be something.
This week in the Sunday edition I spoke to Hannah Weinberger, who wrote “'Murder hornet' gets new, more ethical, name” for Crosscut. We spoke about why names matter, especially when it comes to nonnative or “invasive” species, why the name “invasive species” has some issues in and of itself, and the process by which a nationally important bug gets a new name. Weinberger can be found at Crosscut and on Twitter at @Weinbergrrrrr. You can also follow her newsletter here.
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