Numlock News: December 15, 2022 • Helicopters, Dust Devils, Futures
By Walt Hickey
Have a great weekend!
Check out the newest comic I edited at Insider. Offside: I was a pro soccer player. I was tricked into going to Qatar to work construction.
It’s one of the most anticipated movies of the year as Avatar: The Way of Water hits cinemas this weekend. Expectations are high: The film is projected to score a domestic debut somewhere between $150 million and $175 million, and all told is projected to haul in $450 million to $550 million globally. The long running time means fewer showtimes, which may be slightly offset by the fact that pretty much nothing else is playing this weekend, and it’s still not entirely clear what the China numbers are going to look like. The best opening of 2022 was Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which made $449 million. James Cameron on Pandora dueling with Sam Raimi at Marvel for the best opening of the year does mean that the industry’s plan of "For The Love of God Somehow Make It The Late 2000s Again By Any Means Necessary” is going exactly according to plan.
BTS member Jin has entered the military, and now the entire K-pop industry is trying to figure out what to do in the absence of a global star act like BTS. The hiatus is rough on Hybe, the company behind the supergroup, which got about 70 percent of its revenue from BTS in 2021. The company is responding by rolling out several new groups and hoping something pops: Three groups will debut this year, and four groups next year. This has implications far beyond South Korea; views of K-pop videos on YouTube hit 64.3 billion in the 12 months from September 2021 through August 2022, up 250 percent over the figure from the same period three years prior. Most interestingly, only 10.3 percent of those views came from South Korea as the phenomenon went global.
TONIGHT: I’m hosting a show at Caveat in NYC, a live play of the TTRPG game I designed for Insider’s “Red, White and Gray” project and it should be a ton of fun. We’ve got some excellent guests lined up; buy tickets here, or check out the livestream option.
A Maryland lawsuit between a homeowner and their homeowner association led to a new state law that protects the right of a homeowner to forgo a nonnative turf lawn and instead plant pollinator plants and rain gardens in an attempt to promote the health of the butterflies, bees and bats that need such flowers to survive. Transitioning a yard into a place with native plants — coneflowers, carinal flowers, phlox — can be a significant asset for imperiled pollinators in the area, but also attract the attention of homeowners associations seeking to enforce lawn orthodoxy. The National Wildlife Federation said that 2020 saw a 50 percent increase in the number of people creating NWF-certified wildlife gardens.
New Yorkers are furious about helicopter noise, lodging 25,916 complaints about the loud sounds of the super-rich getting ferried between heliports in the city in 2021. That’s up from just 3,332 such reports in 2019. This year is on pace with the high clip of complaints last year, with about 22,800 lodged with the city in the first 11 months of 2022. The New York City Council is considering a bill that would ban nonessential helicopter traffic out of Manhattan. It’s a serious quality of life issue: For instance, there were more complaints about helicopter noise than there were about rats.
The Perseverance rover on Mars captured 10 seconds of audio of a dust devil on the surface of the red planet. The vortex was normal in size — 400 feet tall, 80 feet wide, traveling 16 feet per second, gusts up to 25 miles per hour, pretty average. This happened about a year ago, and the analysis of the event was just published in a study appearing in Nature Communications. The timing was pretty fortuitous, as the SuperCam microphone is turned on for less than three minutes every few days, and it collected just 84 minutes of audio in its first year.
Traders are concerned about a spike in activity that happened in the one minute ahead of the release of the November inflation report. The report was published at 8:30 a.m., but in the minute following 8:29 a.m. there was a highly unconventional shift in typically mum futures market which prompted questions of a leak. In the 60 seconds prior to the release, some 13,000 March 10-year futures were traded, increasing the price of the asset. Immediately after the inflation numbers came in, the overall price spiked significantly after the release.
The free and open online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, has a complicated governance structure where the volunteer editors who are largely responsible for Wikipedia are a different group than the Wikimedia Foundation, which is the nonprofit that funds the service as well as some other projects. What decisions should belong to the Wikipedia community and which should belong with the foundation is a standard long-term debate that this month boiled over as it related to the large ads begging for money at the top of Wikipedia. The WMF pulled in $165 million from 13 million donations over their most recent fiscal year, overwhelmingly from small donors. That’s one reason that the fact-focused editors quibbled with year-end ad language that conveyed the false idea that Wikipedia is in a difficult financial position, which it self-evidently is not. That tone was subsequently dialed back.
This week, I spoke to Taylor Orth, who wrote “Many Americans say not in my backyard to prisons and homeless shelters” for YouGov. I loved the survey design in this one, polling people about the same type of building and just framing the question either nationally or locally; it’s incredibly clever and really is a great way to figure out the various different fault lines in the debate over different kinds of development. Orth can be found at YouGov and on Twitter.
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