Numlock News: December 10, 2019 • Hawaiian, Subway Cars, Mocktails
By Walt Hickey
A new report from the New York City Comptroller lays out just what a rough deal the city’s MTA got from Bombardier, the company they paid $599 million to in 2012 for 300 R179 subway cars. The manufacturer has missed 14 of 19 deadlines, and by January 2017 only delivered 18 of the promised cars. Moreover, the MTA then spent $35 million fixing older trains to keep them in service while waiting for Bombardier to get around to shipping the cars, which eventually prompted them to throw in another 18 cars to sweeten the deal. Still, as we near the end of the decade, as of Monday only 298 of the 318 cars have actually been delivered. The new cars fail after an average of 127,374 miles. I can only assume it’s a dish of cold revenge after a Bombardier executive was sold a ticket to ride the (free) Staten Island Ferry in the late ‘80s.
In the United States, there is one security camera for every 4.6 people, which is not all that far from the ratio in China where there is one camera for every 4.1 people. Worldwide there are about 770 million cameras in service — 70 million of which are in the U.S. — a figure projected to exceed 1 billion by the end of 2021. China will account for the bulk of the increase, jumping from 349 million security cameras in 2018 to 567 million in 2021. The bulk of China’s cameras are for city surveillance, compared to just 3 percent of those in the U.S.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has announced the nominees for the Golden Globes, a popular paperweight pursued by those who aspire to get on the radar for an Academy Award and/or get drunk on the NBC dime. In a stellar year, Netflix accounted for 17 nominations, including its first nominations for best picture drama. The closest runner-up is Sony, which has eight nominations in total. Marriage Story leads with six nominations, followed by The Irishman and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood with five nominations each.
The American manufacturing workforce is rapidly approaching a point when the fraction of employees with a high school diploma or less will soon be lower than the fraction of workers with a college degree or more. In 1991, 22 percent of manufacturing workers had a college degree, a figure that today stands at 40.9 percent. By comparison, 43.1 percent of the manufacturing workforce today has only a high school diploma or less, which as recent as 2000 stood at 53.9 percent. With rising automation, the nature of work in factories is shifting from physical labor to controlling, maintaining and upgrading robots who do physical labor.
The factory farming system necessitates dosing livestock with a massive supply of antibiotics, and that’s having dire long-term consequences for antibiotic resistant disease. Consumers have caught on, as have large food retailers like McDonald’s, and as a result, slowly but surely some meat producers are dialing back on the drugs, but some are better than others. Over half the chickens in the U.S. are raised without drugs, and the use of medically important antibiotics for chickens is down 47 percent since 2015. Pigs are a different story: they live six months, whereas chickens only have to grow for six weeks, increasing opportunities for disease, so in the U.S. the use of antibiotics is down just 35 percent over the same period. Denmark could present a model: the country loves pork, raising 32 million pigs per year for a population of 6 million people, and aims to raise 1.5 million pigs antibiotic-free in five years compared to 200,000 today. To accomplish that, they’re enforcing targets for cutting antibiotic use in animals, and all but 30 of the 3,100 pig farms hit the mark in 2018.
In the 1960s, fewer than 2,000 people spoke Hawaiian fluently, just a handful of whom were children. Less than 30 students at University of Hawai‘i were studying the language in 1960, and it seemed as if the native tongue of the archipelago may have been going the way of the 230 indigenous languages that went extinct from 1950 to 2010. That changed over the next two decades, when tourism, the arts community, and a 1978 state constitutional convention that made Hawaiian an official language for the first time all pushed for a rebirth of the language. Today, the number of Hawaiian speakers is about 18,000, half of whom are fluent, thanks to the creation of immersion schools dedicated to perpetuating the tongue.
We’re living in the golden age of the mocktail and even low-alcohol libations, with near beers of yore giving ways to new innovations in alcohol, or the lack thereof. Bon Appetit predicts that the bottled low- and no- alcoholic beverage product sector will grow by 32 percent between 2018 and 2022. That’s three times the growth seen over the past five years, when liquorless cocktails and imitation beverages moved towards the top of the shelf. Granted, alcohol consumption remains steady, but nevertheless it’s now increasingly easy to get good, tasty lower ABV beverages. We’re all trying to make positive health choices, which is why I recently switched from drinking Four Loko to Four Loko Hard Seltzer. Gotta watch my figure.
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